“Give a sh!t. Save a life.” Literally.
If you have yet to make end of the year charitable contributions, I have just the organization for you.
OpenBiome’s slogan, although crude, couldn’t be more true. In an effort to raise funds the nonprofit organization is educating the public about the use of fecal transplants for treatment of refractory (resistant to treatment) Clostridium difficile disease. C. diff is responsible for up to 30,000 deaths annually, and is usually triggered by the use of antibiotics, which throw off your balance of good bacteria, putting you more at risk for pathogenic infections. Studies have found that fecal transplants have about a 90 percent cure rate for C. diff, a rate much higher than the standard treatment of yet more antibiotics.
Fecal transplants are just as they sound: stool is transplanted from a healthy donor into the digestive tract of someone suffering from C. diff. While it sounds unappealing, if you are suffering from recurrent bouts of this disease, the idea of changing the bacteria in your gut makes all the sense in the world. Fecal transplants contain a rich diversity of beneficial bacteria, which is key to its success. Gut bacterial diversity is a marker of good digestive health. When C. diff takes over, that diversity is decreased—thus the need for repopulating with a rich community of good bacteria.
We interviewed James Burgess from OpenBiome for my upcoming public television series set to air by summertime next year. He and Mark Smith founded OpenBiome after watching a friend and family member suffer through 18 months of C. difficile infection and seven rounds of antibiotics before finally receiving a successful, life-changing fecal microbiota transplantation (FMT). They launched OpenBiome in 2012 to make FMT easier and faster to attain for patients and doctors alike.
OpenBiome provides hospitals with screened, filtered, and frozen material ready for clinical use, which helps to make the treatment easier, cheaper, safer, and more widely available. They aim to partner with doctors in 601 cities in the United States, which would put 90 percent of the country’s population within a two-hour drive of treatment. They also want to transition their treatments from implanted tubes to pills, which would make it even easier for patients to receive care.
They have launched an IndieGogo campaign in order to raise funds to help achieve their goals for growth. Check out their campaign to learn more about the important work they are doing.