October 24, 2013

Microbiome Transplant: A Patient’s Story

By AJ Montpetit

Dianne Shea and CIM Staff



I've been a paraplegic and a Mayo Clinic patient for over 10 years. My legs decided to stop working in a matter of a few short months due to a spinal tumor, so I didn't think I was a stranger to adversity. Then I met a nasty little bug they call C. Difficile. The name is not ironic. At first I thought it is was a very violent form of the flu with fevers, chills, vomiting, nausea, and (the worst by far) countless, endless bouts of diarrhea.

My days were filled with nothing more than being assisted to the bathroom, cleaning up, getting back into bed, then starting all over again weaker then before. I required around the clock care. I couldn't get dress, hardly eat anything, get enough energy to do the smallest of tasks, couldn't have any fun. Most importantly I couldn't get through physical therapies for my legs!

I never dared go outside my home (even on holidays) because of the great fear of it acting up. Often my family had to call an ambulance and I went in and out of hospitals, not staying at  home for any longer than two weeks for the next year. I was terrified that C. Diff. would be the thing that made me lose my independence.

I had heard about a brand new procedure that sounded gross, described as a “fecal transplant,” but it had a huge success rate in solving the C. Diff. problem. After losing a year of my life to suffering, I thought I could at least find out about this thing. I was put in touch with Dr. Darrell Pardi and Dr. Sahil Khanna from the Mayo Clinic.

They were wonderful doctors and educated me on the procedure, it's risks and benefits, how it was done, etc. I wanted my transplant as fast as could be arranged! I first needed a donor. My daughter and son both agreed, but my daughter was the lucky one to go through a few pre-transplant blood tests and check-up. I checked into St. Mary's hospital and did the prep work, which was nothing more then what you would do for a colonoscopy.

The next morning my daughter did her part (she jokes about that to this day saying she never felt such pressure to do what she does every morning). Gracefully done with her part, I was wheeled to the OR. Dr. Pradi had done such a fabulous job preparing me for the procedure that I wasn't worried. The number of Doctors and medical field that came to see my bottom half was interesting. I didn't feel, see or hear anything and the next thing I remember was being told every thing's over and it all went wonderfully. It wasn't the funnest thing I've done but after living with C. Diff. it was just another day.

I remember laying in my hospital bed holding my breath waiting for the cramps, chills, fevers and diarrhea to start. Minutes ticked by. Then hours, nothing. I moved around in bed, nothing. I sat up, nothing. I ate a real meal with salad, fruit and dairy but not a cramp, pain, or even the urge to use the bathroom. I slept uninterrupted and oh to know what that felt like again! I went home still waiting for something to happen and nothing did. Each day I got stronger, healthier and happier while nothing happened. I started to go out, at first for a few minutes then I got really brave and went shopping, got my hair done, went to a movie, went out to lunch and ate. My life began again!

I didn't realize how ill I had become until I wasn't ill any longer. I didn't have to worry about being out and unprepared, I could go out and focus on having a good time! IT WAS A MIRACLE. Thanks to the doctors and staff of Mayo Clinic and St Mary’s, and my family, I have my life back again. Don't suffer with this disease, don't be afraid of the procedure, don't wait one more minute, and don't suffer any longer. Start living again.

Tags: c. difficile, center for individualized medicine, Dianne Shea, Fecal, fecal transplant, Heather Johnson, individualized medicine, mayo clinic, microbiome, Microbiome Transplant, nicholas chia, personalized care, personalized medicine, physical therapy, Uncategorized

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