McMaster Children’s Hospital opens first stool bank for kids in Canada
HAMILTON, ON – Hamilton Health Sciences’ (HHS) McMaster Children’s Hospital (MCH) has opened Canada’s first pediatric stool bank. The healthy stool samples are used to create a treatment for the recurring gut infection Clostridium difficile, or C. diff, in children when antibiotics haven’t worked. This treatment has become a common procedure in adults but MCH is on the leading edge of using it for children.
“About a quarter of all kids who get C. difficile will develop recurrence and need multiple rounds of antibiotics,” says Dr. Nikhil Pai, pediatric gastroenterologist at MCH. “Among these kids, the repeat antibiotics don’t necessarily work, are expensive, can be hard on their bodies or put them at risk for other problems. Many of these children would be candidates for FMT.”
Bad bacteria like C. diff, can take over in the colon and cause diarrhea, fever and cramps. And it can be hard to get rid of. That’s what happened to nine-year-old Kayleah, who lives in Millville, Nova Scotia with her family. Kayleah was the first pediatric patient to get treated at MCH with healthy bacteria from a donor stool.
“Kayleah had been admitted to the hospital for another reason and had to be on IV antibiotics,” says her mom, Tanya. “After that, she was in constant discomfort and pain. Once tests showed that she had C. diff, her health care team tried getting rid of it using multiple different antibiotics with minimal success. She spent 14 months with only a brief break in between suffering from the pain and discomfort of C. diff., which triggered her seizures.”
While treating C. diff with an FMT is available to adults in Canada, Pai says a barrier to making the treatment more widely available for children has been the lack of a dedicated pediatric program. “Up until now, the only way a child could access FMT in Canada was by finding an adult FMT program and asking an adult physician to perform the treatment. A lot of programs closed down during the COVID-19 pandemic and among those that continued, treating kids with adult donor’s stool became a greater risk.”
“Our stool bank is literally a collection of poop,” says Pai. “Once the waste is separated from the important bits, one bowel movement can make up to ten FMT treatments. The success of this treatment is outstanding. A single treatment is 81 per cent effective and two FMT treatments are 90 to 97 per cent effective in kids. I can see a future where we won’t need to be constantly chasing C. diff with antibiotics anymore.”
MCH has continued to grow its stool bank and remains open to children seeking FMT across the country. Any child struggling with C. diff can be referred to Dr. Pai and his team for consultation and treatment by their health-care provider. And if anyone is interested in becoming a pediatric stool donor please contact Fariha Chowdhury at 905-521-2100 x73587 or email@example.com. Compensation will be offered.
For more information, please visit https://www.hamiltonhealthsciences.ca/share/first-pediatric-stool-bank-in-canada/.
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