They matched on a dating site and got married. He needed a kidney, and they matched again.

By Lauren M. Johnson

It was a match made in heaven, or at least eharmony told them so. But Lisa and Dan Summers didn’t know how compatible they really were.

Before the Summers met and fell in love after meeting online, Dan, who is in his 30’s, had a kidney condition that was discovered in his 20s.

“I knew about 10 years ago that there was going to be some trouble sometime in the future,” Dan told CNN affiliate KTXL. “And they thought it was going to be when I was in my 50s or 60s, and it ended up hitting last year.”

He needed a transplant, and come to find out Lisa was a match. The odds? One in 100,000, doctors said.

“It’s like being next to a stranger on a train, matching them and then also falling in love on top of it, you know,” Lisa said. “There was like this sense that it was going to work.”

On August 22 at UCSF Medical Center near their home in Auburn, California, the transplant was successfully performed, and Lisa’s kidney was accepted by Dan’s body.

A new outlook

Though the Summers are back to normal with their son Jasper, they have a new appreciation for life.

“Being able to see him in front of me just holding my son’s hand or when he lifts him or those fun moments,” Lisa said. “It’s like there’s an extra appreciation to it, that my son gets to have his father growing up, you know.”

The Summers are now also advocating for kidney donation and are firm believers that the sacrifice can go a long way.

“There’s a shortage of donors that are out there right now and there’s a number of people that are in kidney failure. And dialysis is not a fun thing,” Dan said. “On a live donor they can get 10 to 20, sometimes 30 years if the match is really good.”

https://www.cnn.com/2019/12/05/us/wife-is-husbands-kidney-donor-trnd/index.html

Introducing the first bank of feces

BY Erika Engelhaupt

A new nonprofit called OpenBiome is hoping to do for fecal transplants what blood banks have done for transfusions. It’s a kind of Brown Cross.

And it’s an idea whose time has come. Recent trials testing transplants of fecal microbes from the healthy to the sick have been so promising that people are attempting dangerous do-it-yourself fecal transplants by enema, for lack of access to authorized medical procedures.

Graduate students Carolyn Edelstein and Mark B. Smith got the idea for OpenBiome after a friend had trouble getting a fecal transplant to treat an infection with Clostridium difficile. The bacterium causes dangerous, even fatal, diarrhea and in an increasing number of cases is resistant to antibiotics.

People tend to get C. difficile infections after antibiotics or chemotherapy has knocked out helpful bacteria, allowing what is normally a background player to take over. Transplants of fecal bacteria from healthy donors can help reset the microbiome, the mix of bacteria in the body, and crowd out C. difficile. A 2011 review of 317 patients treated for C. difficile found that fecal transplants cleared up infections in 92 percent of patients. And more recent research showed that taking a round of pills containing bacteria isolated from fecal matter (without the feces itself) resolved C. difficile infections in all of 32 patients treated.

There’s also interest in transplanting healthy fecal microbiomes into people with inflammatory bowel disease or even obesity. In one recent test, mice implanted with fecal microbes from thin humans stayed thin, while mice given bacteria from obese people gained weight.

But the transplants are hard to get. As Edelstein and Smith’s friend learned, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration requires lots of paperwork for the experimental therapy, and donor feces has to be screened for a host of potential pathogens.

That’s where OpenBiome steps in. The nonprofit offers hospitals fecal samples for $250 that have been prescreened to ensure they are free of pathogens and parasites. Since October, they’ve sent more than 100 samples to a dozen hospitals and clinics, according to an interview with Smith in the Chronicle of Higher Education. Edelstein, who’s studying public affairs at Princeton, and Smith, who’s studying microbiology at MIT, recruited friends and donors and negotiated permissions with the FDA to set up the organization, which houses its samples at MIT. OpenBiome is also offering to collaborate with researchers for long-term follow-up on patients’ microbiomes.

Because FDA considers feces to be a drug in the context of transplants, OpenBiome is providing stool only for treatment of C. difficile. People hoping to shift their microbiomes for other purposes are still out of luck. Until more testing and approval comes through, that leaves open the risk that some people may resort to home transplants.

Let me be very clear about this: Whipping up an enema of your friend’s stool is a terrible idea.There are excellent reasons why people normally avoid poop: It can carry pathogens and parasites that cause serious disease. Even a donor who appears perfectly healthy might be carrying around bacteria or viruses that his or her immune system or particular microbiome mix is able to deal with. Your mileage may vary.

Your genetics, your immune system, your diet and environment — all these things create the ecology of your insides, making it hard to predict what your outcome might be. What’s more, you may need to make other medically supervised changes along with the transplant. Research on microbiome links to obesity, for instance, suggests that a new “skinny” microbiome has to be accompanied by a switch to a diet lower in fat and calories, or else the new microbes will just be outcompeted.

These dangers and complicating factors are why a supply of prescreened stool is so important. The procedures need to be done under medical supervision, and when done right the results look really promising. The recently tested pill approach avoids some of the yuck factor of fecal transplants, but most transplants are done via an enema, colonoscopy or nose tube to the gut.

If you get transplant material from OpenBiome, you’ll have to submit to one of the usual transplant methods rather than a pill, but you can rest assured you’re getting high-quality stuff. Not only are the samples screened, the donors are among the best and brightest: a few young researchers and scientists from Harvard and MIT.

Introducing the first bank of feces

Thanks to Jody Troupe for bringing this to the attention of the It’s Interesting community.