Innovative treatment cured recurrent C. difficile infections
As a stay-at-home mother, Patrice Stech needs strength, health and flexibility to nurture her 3 children, all under age 7. But a lengthy battle with recurrent Clostridium difficile infections compromised her ability to focus on her family.
"I was so sick I was willing to try anything," says the 34-year-old Olathe, Kansas, resident, who has suffered from 9 bouts of the bacterial infection in 14 years. "I was constantly going to the bathroom with diarrhea, probably 20 to 30 times a day. A lot of times, it felt like a really nasty flu bug."
During each infection, Patrice would quarantine herself in her room for days waiting for antibiotics to take effect. Meanwhile, her husband obsessively cleaned the house with a water and bleach solution, hoping he and the children would avoid contact with the highly contagious bacteria.
Relief finally came in 2016 when Patrice underwent a fecal microbiota transplantation (FMT) at The University of Kansas Health System. This investigational treatment involves depositing a carefully screened stool sample into the sick individual's colon to reintroduce the healthy bacteria that normally reside there.
Patrice said FMT saved her life.
Addressing the stigma is the first step
Ask around, and many people will say they've never heard of FMT. And when they do, most recoil.
"There is an 'ick factor' for a lot of people," says gastroenterologist Mollie Jackson, DO. "But if someone is battling C. diff and has failed multiple antibiotic courses, I encourage them to be open-minded and think of FMT as an alternative medical option."