We spoke to a King’s student funding officer about what it’s like to donate ‘Super Poo’
We should donate PooCL
You can donate all sorts of stuff these days – sperm, blood, bone marrow and now: Poo. Yup, this week it was revealed that doctors are looking for “super poo” for medical research. But what is super poo and why is it so special? We spoke to Claudia Campanella, a student funding officer at King’s College London and a regular donor of so-called super poo.
The process is essentially a poo transplant. Claudia, who is involved with the Hepatic Cirrhosis study, told The King's Tab: “The treatment works by taking the bacteria from the intestines of healthy volunteers through their faeces and replacing the abnormal bacteria in the gut of a patient with Hepatic Cirrhosis.
“If you decide to volunteer for the study, they call you in for an appointment and collect a sample of blood and one of stool; they test both samples to check for a variety of infections; if the results are negative, and you are considered a healthy donor, then you can donate.”
But how do you find out your poo is superior to other poo?
“I don’t actually know!” said Claudia. "I have been donating since last summer, and the doctor keeps contacting me for new donations.” There is, she concedes, no way to know "what makes a microbiome better or more effective than another."
King’s students can sign up as well – there are drop-off points at Guy’s, St Thomas’s, and Denmark Hill. Claudia said she first saw the opportunity to donate super poo on the "volunteering ad on the fortnightly research circular” – you know, the one you never read.
What is the process like?
Claudia told The King’s Tab: "The stool sample provided for treatment must be ‘fresh’, and have been made within two hours. I always produce at home, and drop it off at St Thomas’s hospital on my way to work.
"It was slightly odd simply because the idea of showing up to the Doctor with the expected production was a bit off-putting at first. I have been preoccupied with questions like ‘what if it’s not enough’, ‘will it be how they need it’ etc, but that’s really irrelevant.
"You meet the same doctor who tested your sample and went through the questionnaire with you, so by then you would have had the chance to ask all questions you want, and go past the embarrassment stage of it. Besides, you are doing nothing more than you do every day – just that, instead of letting it drop in toilet, you collect it in a sealing container, put in two other bags that you will also seal, and carry with you to the hospital.
“Each time you donate you drop off the full container, and get another empty, which you can carry home to provide more stool whenever asked. There is really nothing to be embarrassed about – you are contributing to research!"
As to exactly what the poo can help with outside of the cirrhosis study Claudia volunteers for, it remains to be seen. Claudia told The King’s Tab: “Faecal transplant is currently being studied for the treatment of many conditions, like hepatic cirrhosis, clostridium difficile infections, Alzheimer's, multiple sclerosis, asthma, autism, other mental health illnesses, obesity, and many more.
“There are some transplants that have very successful rates, while others don’t, so the point is understanding why."
Well that's all you need to know about being a "super poo" donor: Take a shit and save some lives – pretty cool.
Featured image credit: Claudia Campanella