One man's $40 poops could save your life


OpenBiome, a lab in Boston, calls itself a stool bank. It does not loan out things to stand on, and so, yes, it is what you may have guessed: a place for people to donate their shit for science.

Why would people drop off their poop at a poop bank, you may wonder? It might just be saving the world. Here’s the Washington Post from January on the value of collecting poop:

Since 2013, OpenBiome has been processing and shipping loads of it all over the country. The frozen stool is administered to patients who are very sick with infections of a bacteria called C. difficile. The bacteria can cause extreme gastrointestinal distress, leaving some sufferers housebound. Antibiotics often help, but sometimes the bacteria rears back as soon as treatment stops. That leads to a miserable, continuous course of antibiotics.
By introducing healthy fecal matter into the gut of a patient (by way of endoscopy, nasal tubes, or swallowed capsules) doctors can abolish C. difficile for good.

And, according to CNN, the poop is remarkably effective: 90% of patients who take the medicine report feeling better. They say a patient can go from going to the bathroom “20 times a day” to “having normal bowel movements” the very next day. Hell yeah.

But it kind of sounds like a logistical nightmare to get that poop, right? Wouldn’t that mean patients needed to poop in OpenBiome designated toilets? The answer is: Yes! And it sounds like hell!

Here’s how one donor, Eric, described a normal day at the poop barn: He’s at work, and he’s gotta take a dump. But he does not take a dump. Instead, he gets on the train, and the bus, and “passes countless toilets,” CNN tells us, but holds it in the whole time! Finally, FINALLY, he arrives at the lab, and then poops into a plastic bucket.

It’s not a terrible deal for Eric. He gets $40 a deuce, and has already earned about $1,000. Good for Eric.

Michael Rosen is a reporter for Fusion based out of Oakland.

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