When I was a kid, you could earn an impressive-looking patch called the President’s Physical Fitness Award for performing well in a series of running and calisthenic challenges.
Decades later, those life insurance ads that offer special rates if you can run a mile in so many minutes or bike a certain number of miles per week offer a similar type of status symbol for fitness fanatics.
But these days the ultimate badge of good health may well be this: Do you have what it takes to be a poop donor?
Apparently this has been a thing for a few years now, but I’d never heard of it until the topic came up while Colleen was job shadowing a microbiologist at Manchester University a couple of weeks ago. The students in the professor’s class had been discussing the use of fecal transplants to cure a potentially fatal bacterial infection called Clostridium difficile. This is currently the only FDA approved use of fecal transplants, but there are clinical studies all over the world investigating the procedure to treat everything from arthritis to obesity.
The fecal matter for all those procedures must be thoroughly prescreened. Your BMI matters, as does your diet. They don’t want to be injecting any bad microbes into someone’s colon. At OpenBiome, the nation’s largest supplier of frozen stool specimens for FMT, the joke is that it’s harder to pass the poop donor screening process than it is to get into MIT.
OpenBiome pays pretty well – up to $250 a week for frequent donors, though you must live near the Boston area to participate.
If FMT wins approval for treating other conditions, maybe poop donation centers will become as common as plasma donation sites. If so, they ought to give out bumper stickers. Because being that healthy – and being in a position to pass your good health on to someone else – seems like something to be truly proud of.