Sudhir Dutta, M.D., head of the Division of Gastroenterology at Sinai Hospital, performed fecal transplant procedures for two patients with severe clostridium difficile (C. difficile) colitis that did not respond to routine antibiotic and other treatments. C. difficile causes symptoms ranging from mild diarrhea to more serious, sometimes life threatening colon inflammation.

In the transplant procedure, feces from a donor are first processed in the lab then injected into the small intestine and right side of the colon. "Normal healthy bacteria from the donor's feces leads to repopulation of the patient's colon with these beneficial bacteria," Dutta says. A successful outcome means the patient no longer suffers C. difficile symptoms such as diarrhea, cramps, abdominal pain and fever.

Sinai patient Ellen Blackwell had C. difficile for about a year before having the fecal transplant procedure a few months ago. The donor was her daughter. "My choices were to lose my colon, die or have a fecal transplant from a loving donor," says Blackwell, one of two Sinai Hospital patients who had the procedure. "I had no choice. This saved my life."

Although C. difficile can be controlled by medication, the cost of that medicine can be as much as $800 every few months and is not always 100 percent effective. Only a few doctors nationwide perform fecal transplant procedures.

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