You could be making a shit ton of extra cash for your… shit. Stool donors are in high
demand for a treatment known as FMT. In this article, you can learn everything about how to donate your stool, and why some people are willing to pay for it. We’ll cover the main things you need to know, including:
Why exactly do people want your stool donation? We’ll jump into that first.
There may be a variety of reasons that we don’t even want to know about, but the main reason people are interested in buying others’ stool is so they can use it for a treatment known as FMT. FMT stands for Fecal Microbiota Transplants, which is currently being used to treat illnesses associated with the gut microbiome.
The microbiome is the sum of all the bacteria, fungi, protozoa and viruses in our bodies. There are multiple microbial communities within our bodies: they are on our skin, in our nose, mouth, ears, and gut. Fecal Microbiota Transplants help treat the gut microbiome by inserting the stool of a healthy donor into the gut of an ill patient to promote a healthy bacterial balance. FMT is mainly used for the treatment of a deadly bacterial infection known as C Diff (it is 90% effective in treating it), but it is also being explored and tested as a treatment for many chronic diseases such as, Colitis, Crohn's, Obesity, Parkinson’s and Autism.
Because of its effective use in C Diff and its potential use for many other illnesses, the need for stool donations is increasing. So how do people source human poop for medical use?
A fecal transplant donor is someone who is in impeccable gastrointestinal health. FMT donors generally donate multiple times a week, over a period of a few months. Due to high demand, along with lack of qualified, healthy donors, those who donate must be able to commit to donating poop regularly.
Stool is sourced in different ways depending on what it is being used for. For example, for the treatment of C Diff in the United States, much of the FMT donations are collected at a non-profit stool bank in Boston, MA called OpenBiome, which collects and distributes frozen poop across the United States.
OpenBiome does these fecal collections for the sole purpose of treating C Diff, but other universities and research institutes collect fecal donations for a variety of reasons. For studies exploring potential uses of FMT, most of the poop is donated on site. Knowing the profile of each donor specifically is helpful for determining the legitimacy of a studies success.
Whether you are near a major fecal donation center such as OpenBiome in Boston or not, if you live near a University with a medical research wing, you might want to check out if they are doing any studies that might require use of your poop. Because the need for stool donations is on the rise, you might be able to make a donation and make some money in the process! However, only some people are eligible to donate.
Not all stool banks and studies pay for your poop donations, many operate strictly on a volunteer basis. If you are interested in being a fecal donor, paid or not, here is a quick checklist of what might disqualify you from a donation program:
If none of those criteria seem to apply to you, you could be eligible to be a stool donor.
Because of the increased use of and interest in FMT as a treatment method, many donation centers and studies for it are currently being established across the world - and many of these programs are paying for an FMT donor. We spoke to OpenBiome in Boston about what there donor selection process includes, and this is what it takes to sell your poop:
Fill out an online health questionnaire. Which asks questions about your level of interest and weekly availability. Once this is done, you move on to step 2.
If your online questionnaire checks out, you will go in for an hour-long clinical interview - which includes questions about your current health status, health history, and family health history. If you have allergies or asthma, a family history of colon cancer, autoimmune diseases or infectious diseases, or a high body mass index, you’ll likely be disqualified.
Beyond those disqualifiers, if you’ve traveled to certain regions of the world, recently got a tattoo, or recently changed sexual partners, you’ll have to wait a few months and try again. If you pass the interview, you move on to step 3.
Your blood and stool will have to undergo extensive testing to screen for pathogens and infectious diseases. If you pass this stage, you’ve made it.
Three steps isn’t so bad, but keep in mind that only about 3% of applicants make it through the screening process. In fact, you’d probably have better odds of getting into Harvard than being admitted into a stool donation program. For the safety of the recipients, OpenBiome wants to ensure they only use the best poop around.
Even once you’re in, every donation you make will have to be screened to ensure it is safe to use. The samples are measured up against the Bristol Stool Chart (shown above). Your stool must be between a 3-5 to be deemed a usual treatment.
If you’re looking for a stool donation bank near you, and you live in the Boston area, check out OpenBiome; they are always looking for new healthy donors. If you don’t, check to see if a University or research facility near you has any studies that are in need of stool donors - these are constantly changing, but the best way to find information on whether you can be a donor or not.