For several years, Nadene Parsell battled a recurrent condition known as Clostridium difficile colitis, or C. diff. A bacterial infection, C. diff can cause abdominal pain, diarrhea, involuntary defecation, fever and worse symptoms if not properly treated.
The most traditional treatment for C. diff is antibiotic therapy. However, it comes with a risk. Although antibiotics kill much of the C. diff bacteria, they can also wipe out beneficial bacteria in the gut, allowing the bad guys to reorganize and jump-start the condition all over again.
This is precisely what happened to Nadene. Recently her condition worsened and she ended up at Sharp Grossmont Hospital's Emergency Department. She was eventually put under the care of Dr. Fadi Haddad, an infectious disease specialist affiliated with Sharp, who offered her an option she had never heard of, and one that had never before been performed at Sharp Grossmont — a fecal transplant, also known as bacteriotherapy.
Haddad explains that if antibiotics work against the patient, a fecal transplant is the best and one of the only other options. “Other procedures, such as surgery to remove the colon, are much more catastrophic and dangerous,” says Dr. Haddad. “This procedure is highly successful, and we identified Nadene as a great candidate.”
The procedure transfers the stool of a healthy donor into the patient’s gastrointestinal tract. The healthy stool delivers good bacteria to the patient’s digestive tract. Sharp Grossmont works with a blood supply company in Sacramento that recruits healthy volunteers, and then screens and sends their donated stool to hospitals for transplant.
The transplant usually takes place via colonoscopy. As the colonoscope is withdrawn, the donor stool is released into the patient’s colon. Once in, the good bacteria begins growing and eventually brings the patient’s system back in balance — something Nadene has wanted for a long time.
“I haven’t felt this good in years,” says Nadene. “It is a dream come true.”