Vials of diluted feces ready for a fecal transplant procedure.

Fraser Health halts planned fecal transplants

Doctors insist therapy a life saver for infected patients

Fraser Health has halted plans for an unusual treatment of implanting feces into patients threatened by potentially deadly infections after the federal government objected.

Fecal transplants are thought to be a way to introduce healthy gut bacteria that can crowd out and replace dangerous bacteria such as C. difficile. Stool from healthy patients can be added via enema or a tube down the throat.

Doctors at Burnaby and Ridge Meadows hospitals were to provide the therapy to patients whose recurring C. difficile infections haven’t been cured by antibiotics and have battled chronic diarrhea.

The physicians have argued fecal transplants are effective and could have saved the lives of multiple patients who died of C. difficile infections at Lower Mainland hospitals in recent years.

Health Canada, which considers the treatment investigational, recently stated it can only be performed within clinical trials, which it has authorized in other provinces but not in B.C.

Dr. Elizabeth Brodkin, medical director of infection prevention and control at Fraser Health, said Fraser has put the pilot project on hold in response but she still strongly supports the concept.

“We are fully committed to bringing this procedure to our patients in the near future as we know it can save lives,” Brodkin said in an emailed statement.

Fraser didn’t believe fecal transplants would be considered an experimental drug limited to clinical trials until it got notification from Ottawa.

“We aren’t considering a clinical trial for this procedure, as we feel there have been sufficient clinical trials to show that this treatment is safe and effective,” Brodkin said.

She said the health authority first confirmed that the College of Physicians and Surgeons of B.C. had no objection to physicians using the treatment.

Brodkin points to a European trial that was halted early after it cured 94 per cent of C. difficile diarrhea sufferers compared to 27 per cent for the powerful antibiotic vancomycin.

The findings, reported in early 2013 in the New England Journal of Medicine, concluded it was significantly more effective than antibiotics – three to four times more likely to cure the infection.

Fraser Health’s first fecal transplant was performed in 2010 at Burnaby Hospital by Dr. Jeanne Keegan-Henry.

Fraser Health’s own newsletter hailed Keegan-Henry for pioneering the procedure in an article titled “The S**t Disturber.”

It recounted how she bought a blender, labelled it ‘Don’t use for food’ and churned up a diluted mix of a healthy donor’s feces that she then implanted via colonoscopy into a C. difficile patient who was near death.

A second implant was performed a year later by Maple Ridge Dr. Ed Auersperg but officials ordered a halt as they hadn’t been approved.

The health authority reconsidered the issue last year and decided to pursue the new pilot. Donors would have been screened to prevent the spread of diseases – the main cost of the procedure.

Keegan-Henry told the newsletter the “ewww” factor is the main objection, but not usually from patients.

“By the time you’ve had diarrhea for two to three months, if someone says ‘I’m going to do something absolutely disgusting to you and within an hour you will stop having diarrhea and you may never have it again’ you’d be surprised how little resistance there is.”

She described the fecal implants as a “cheap and easy” fix to an awful “heartbreaking” disease that incapacitates victims for months and kills some of them.

“I don’t have any doubts this will save lives.”

Fecal transplants have gained attention in recent years as a potential treatment for other intestinal disorders as well.

Just Posted

Snow prayers answered as Manning Park ski hill opens Friday

Ski hill will be open seven days a week starting Dec. 14, and cross-country trails as well

Fleeing driver picks fight with Chilliwack police dog, loses

Good dog ‘Griff’ also locates large quantity of what police believe to be crystal meth in Abbotsford

UPDATE: Heavy rainfall, strong winds in forecast for Lower Mainland

Heavy rains, snow expected till Friday morning

DFO confirms that investigation of fish habitat destruction in the Fraser River is underway

Conservation and Protection reps ordered Herrling and Carey Island owners to take corrective action

Hope rescue crew remove man pinned in semi-truck on Highway 3

Tuesday night rescue was swift, with the man removed safely from the truck within an hour and a half

Omar Khadr wants changes to bail conditions

‘My life is held in suspension’, says the former Guantanamo Bay detainee

Sissons scores OT winner as Predators beat Canucks 4-3

VIDEO: Vancouver battles back to earn single point in Nashville

Lions announce seven members of coaching staff not coming back for 2019

The operational moves come two days after the Lions announced DeVone Claybrooks as the team’s new head coach

$12K awarded to atheist family who oppose Christmas, Hanukkah in B.C. classroom

Gary Mangel,May Yasue said holidays, Remembrance Day and Valentine’s Day not appropriate in preschool

Coach accused of sexual assault says apology letter was misinterpreted

Dave Brubaker has pleaded not guilty to one count of sexual assault and one count of invitation to sexual touching

Give the gift of nature this holiday season

Please don’t be mad, but I bought you a moose

Aboriginal poet faces backlash for calling out NHL-themed totem poles

Rebecca Thomas says she received backlash for asking a drugstore chain to remove NHL merchandise

No plans yet for free WiFi on BC Transit buses

BC Transit says they are monitoring the roll-out of free WiFi on Translink vehicles

Some Kotex tampons recalled in Canada and U.S.

In some cases, tampon users sought medical attention “to remove tampon pieces left in the body.”

Most Read