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Why One Nonprofit Wants You to Sell Them Your Poop

A qualified candidate could make thousands of dollars a year selling their waste to an organization preparing fecal transplants for the ill

( Fabrice Lerouge/Onoky/Corbis)
smithsonian.com

Talk about flushing money down the toilet. There’s a nonprofit organization in Massachusetts offering the super healthy the chance donate their stool in exchange for up to $13,000 a year and an agreement to poop at the donation center at least four days a week.

Yup. You—or someone, at least—could make money for simply using the bathroom.

Like blood, plasma and sperm before it, feces has become a medical commodity. That’s because it can be used to treat patients infected with C. difficile, a bacterium which causes inflammation of the colon, abdominal pain and diarrhea, among other symptoms. It infects 500,000 Americans every year and may kill up to 30,000

The most effective treatments for this infection is other people’s poop, via fecal microbiota transplants that can, potentially, save lives. The nonprofit OpenBiome has become a leader in providing clinicians and patients safe access to the therapy. But in order to do so, they need benefactors—fecal philanthropists, if you will.

OpenBiome offers $40 for a sample, and—if your deposit makes the cut—up to $250 a week for regular contributions. But it isn’t easy to become a stool donor, as a person who has healthy-enough waste are few and far in-between. The Washington Post reports:

"It's harder to become a donor than it is to get into MIT," joked co-founder Mark Smith (who would know, as he got his PhD in microbiology there). Of the 1,000 or so potential donors who've expressed interest on his Web site over the past two years, only about 4 percent have passed the extensive medical questioning and stool testing.

But if your poop is picked, OpenBiome will specially treat your waste, freeze it and get it to doctors who can introduce it to a patient's system via a variety of methodsin a capsule or through nasogastric tube, enema or colonoscope. They’ve already served up about 2,000 treatments to 185 hospitals.

Organizations like OpenBiome are providing fecal matter to patients who otherwise would face great difficulty acquiring such treatment (which may also have some effect for those suffering from Crohn's disease). The Post reports that the nonprofit’s founders created the organization after a friend “was forced to treat themselves with fecal matter from friends and family.” Hopefully, further developments in the realm of fecal transplants can prevent future desperation and may one day help science squash the infection for good.

As Bustle points out, even before modern medical developments, human kind has been no stranger to using caca creatively. For example, ancient Egyptians once used crocodile dung as a spermicide—which seems way grosser any fecal treatment currently available.

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