Human faeces used in gut infection treatment

TREATMENT Dr Robert Porter
TREATMENT Dr Robert Porter
Queen Alexandra Hospital in Cosham

Compensation for Portsmouth woman given ‘potentially hazardous’ combination of drugs by hospital

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IT’S a treatment that might make you feel a bit squeamish.

But a consultant from Portsmouth is using human faeces to treat a type of bacterial infection.

Dr Robert Porter is a microbiologist consultant and infection specialist at Queen Alexandra Hospital, in Cosham.

He is using a procedure called faecal transplant to treat reoccurring clostridium difficile (c.diff).

He said: ‘This is a procedure that has been used for about 50 years, but it’s the first time it has been done in Portsmouth and the south region.

‘C.diff is a bacteria that forms as part of good bacteria in the gut.

‘But it can be disrupted because of antibiotics, and can overgrow and lead to inflammation. This can lead to the gut rupturing.

‘The death rate nationally of people getting the infection is one in four.

‘In Portsmouth this is lower – about 10 per cent. But we still want to get it lower.’

Tablets or liquids are used to treat this, but sometimes the infection keeps coming back.

This is where faecal transplant – which involves infusing a healthy person’s stool into a patient suffering from reoccurring c.diff – comes in.

The tube runs through the nose, past the stomach and into the gut.

The faecal matter, usually from a family member, is mixed with salt water and passed through the tube, so good bacteria battles the c.diff infection

Heather Morgan, 56, of Uttoxeter, was the first faecal donor at QA.

It was transplanted to her father Francis Williams, of Fareham.

The 88-year-old is battling with leukaemia and is being treated in QA.

He contracted c.diff last December, and despite having medicine to treat it, the infection kept coming back.

Heather said: ‘I visited my dad and he explained the procedure. I thought he was a bit off the wall, but then the doctor came and explained.

‘The more I listened, the more it made sense really.

‘People have probiotic drinks, so it seems like a logical way to get good bacteria straight to where it’s needed.

‘It is a strange thing to hear, and people think you are making it up.

‘It sounds like an old-fashioned remedy, as we’re used to drugs now.

‘My father is doing much better already, and there are no signs of c.diff.’