Donor Everything

Oh dear, we’re heading “down there” – again.

If you follow me on twitter, you may have seen that I tweeted about this last night after I saw it via a doctor friend on Facebook. Well, because my lab flooded overnight and I have no time to do anything at all today, it is going to serve as today’s blog post, especially for those that… er… didn’t see it last night.

From the New England Journal of Medicine, I give you: Donor Poo!

We randomly assigned patients to receive one of three therapies: an initial vancomycin regimen (500 mg orally four times per day for 4 days), followed by bowel lavage and subsequent infusion of a solution of donor feces through a nasoduodenal tube; a standard vancomycin regimen (500 mg orally four times per day for 14 days); or a standard vancomycin regimen with bowel lavage. The primary end point was the resolution of diarrhea associated with C. difficile infection without relapse after 10 weeks.

Putting that into English for you, they found some patients with diarrhoea and split them into three groups. The first lot got antibiotics, the second lot got antibiotics and a bowel wash and the ever-so-lucky third lot got antibiotics, a bowel wash and then some “healthy” poo squirted into their bowels via a tube in their nose.

Yes. You read that last bit correctly. But why would you do that?

Infusion of feces from healthy donors has been reported as an effective treatment for recurrent C. difficile infection in more than 300 patients.

Indeed, because it assists in restoring the “good bacteria” in the gut. So why isn’t this done more often?

Experience with this procedure is limited by a lack of randomized trials supporting its efficacy and the unappealing nature of the treatment.

No sh… er… no kidding.

And here’s how it was done:

Feces were collected by the donor on the day of infusion and immediately transported to the hospital. Feces were diluted with 500 ml of sterile saline (0.9%). This solution was stirred, and the supernatant strained and poured in a sterile bottle. Within 6 hours after collection of feces by the donor, the solution was infused through a nasoduodenal tube (2 to 3 minutes per 50 ml). The tube was removed 30 minutes after the infusion, and patients were monitored for 2 hours.

#OverlyHonestMethods, right there. Seriously, what twisted individual thought that up?
Far, far more than I needed to know. Or maybe just enough for you to try it at home. Which I am clearly advising you not to do.

But hey – here’s the really important bit – it worked!

Overall, donor feces cured 15 of 16 patients (94%). Resolution of infection occurred in 4 of 13 patients (31%) in the vancomycin-alone group and in 3 of 13 patients (23%) in the group receiving vancomycin with bowel lavage.

Isn’t science brilliant?

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Your Headline of the Day

Yes, I too enjoy eating seafood, but:

Is that Calamari You’re Eating…or Sliced Pig Rectum?

Wait. What?

But yes, hot on the hooves of the UK horse meat burger “scandal”, Americans aren’t always eating what they think they’re eating when they order calamari – allegedly, anyway.

The terms you’ll need to learn for this one include: “imitation calamari”, which is exactly what it says – something which is not calamari, but which is pretending to be calamari – and “pork chitterlings”, the posh name for pigs’ intestines. I love how they’ve dressed that latter one up to sound cute, when actually it’s pig gut. Still, it’s better than its other name:

Though it has a shape and texture similar to the real thing, its component parts are decidedly different. While calamari comes from squid, the replica is supposedly made of hog rectum, otherwise known as “bung.”


Mark Wheeler, a spokesman for the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) – the department tasked with ensuring the correct labeling and packaging of our nation’s meat products – told The Huffington Post he wasn’t aware of any products specifically labeled as “imitation calamari.” If it does exist, and is derived from a hog’s rectum, he said it would have to be clearly identified as such.

Which is why when you eat calamari, you should always go for tubes and tentacles, because they are the bits of squid that don’t resemble any part of a pig’s alimentary canal.

As far as I’m aware, anyway.

3 Comments | Tagged , | Posted in in the news, that's a bit mad

Hand Sanitiser

I like this:

Turns out that a very small percentage of a very, very large number is still significant. Your hand sanitizer is only as good as the number of decimal points the nines stretch to.

by Jamie Condliffe in Gizmodo, on this:


via xkcd.

(It’s 20,000 for those of you struggling with your decimals.)

5 Comments | Tagged , | Posted in learning curve

Required Reading

A few articles that I feel may be of interest to my readers and so I am sharing here. Because I could share them on Facebook, but first they’d be there and then they’d be gone and they deserve sharing for longer than that.

First up: @JacquesR with a hefty dose of rational support for the SANBS “ban” on homosexual men donating blood:

The South African National Blood Service (SANBS),  illustrates the problem well, introducing all sorts of moral complications at the same time. As reported in the Cape Argus, a gay couple recently had their blood donation deferred (or rejected), thanks to the SANBS policy of deferring donations from men who have had sex with other men in the last six months.

One narrative that fits this policy is that the SANBS is homophobic, and this narrative has enjoyed strong support on social media for the last few days. But as I wrote in a 2011 column, deferring blood from this category of donor isn’t atypical, and South Africa’s blood service is in fact fairly liberal in this regard. In the UK, the deferral period is one year, while in the US a lifetime restriction applies for men who have had any sexual encounter with another man at any time since 1977.

Then, you can move onto Signe Rousseau’s post on the Coca-Cola Company’s new “anti-obesity” ad; a column in which she unnecessarily begins a sentence with the word “So”, but we’ll overlook that just this once because the points it makes are wonderfully concise and cut through the agenda-laden BS:

I’m not here to protect nor to promote Coca Cola products. But these knee-jerk reactions to corporate/industry involvement in anything “healthy” as being fuelled by anything but sleazy ulterior motives strikes me as incredibly unproductive in any public health conversations.

Finally, one to file under Told?, Can you believe that they need to be:

A girls’ primary school in Bloemfontein has adopted a code of ethics for parents to be applied at all sport events, the Beeld reported on Tuesday. The Laer Meisieskool Oranje’s sport field behaviour code of ethics for parents stipulates that parents should behave respectfully during sporting events and matches.

According to the code, parents may not get involved in physical violence, libel or abusive language or use indecent signs during sport matches.

What? Really? The parents must refrain from physical violence while watch their primary school girls play sport? There’s not even any excuse for that when watching adults playing sport. But primary school girls? What is wrong with these parents that they need to be told this?

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And lo, as had been widely predicted, HMV was placed into administration yesterday. I spent many a happy afternoon (and many a hard earned pound) in HMV stores, most especially Pinstone Street in Sheffield, Northumberland Street Newcastle, Cornmarket Street in Oxford (who could forget their midnight release of Radiohead’s OK Computer in 1997?) and, of course, Oxford Street in London.

That’s where this photo came from – a-ha doing a signing for their first album, Hunting High and Low, back in January 1986:


Those clothes? That hair? Look, it was acceptable in the 80s.

As of course, was paying High Street prices for music and the like, because we never had the luxury of the internet. Thankfully, those dark days of bad clothes and worse hair are now in the past.
Sadly, after 91 years, so is HMV.

1 Comment | Tagged , | Posted in in the news, music, uk