Those antibiotics may not be as good as you think.

January 19, 2011 3:04:51 PM PST
It's an infection that can kill. There are about 15,000 deaths a year. The germ responsible is clostridium difficile commonly called "C Diff" a superbug that's hard to kill.

It is a major problem because it resists almost every antibiotic. A new report out last month detailed how it is also becoming a major problem for children but an unconventional transplant may be the answer.

The bacterium "C Diff" normally lives in the large intestine, but the vast number of normal bacteria keeps it in check, until someone takes common antibiotics for a sinus infection or bronchitis. The normal germs die and "C Diff" takes over. It's resistant to just about all antibiotics.

So how about a stool transplant? A colonoscopy, where doctors check the large intestine through a long scope has been found to work wonders with this resistant bacteria. With a colonoscopy, doctors can perform perhaps the most unusual transplant used to cure infections with the germ c. diff.

Ruth had them for two years. "C. Diff" killing antibiotics didn't work. After twenty pounds of weight loss, Ruth had a stool transplant in order to repopulate the colon with normal bacteria that were killed off.

Dr. Lawrence Brandt from Montefiore Medical Center says, "As soon as you destroy the good bacteria, the C. Diff sees the opportunity and starts to take over and grow." What kills the normal bacteria are antibiotics, taken for sinus or urinary infections, or inappropriately for a cold. The drugs kill healthy germs, and "C Diff" takes over.

The best stool sample donor is a significant other who has been intimate with the patient, if not that, then a first-degree relative such as a mother father sister or brother. "They often share the same normal germs." says Dr. Brandt.

Dr. Brandt uses the scope process to place the donor stool in the colon. He says there are no complications aside from those of a colonoscopy. It's on average 92 percent successful in 170 reported cases. Many doctors say they wouldn't use it, but Ruth has been "C. Diff" free for two years.

Ruth says, "He gives you a colonscopy, he refertilizes your intestines with an array of good bacteria, you wake not knowing anything happened other than not having C. Diff anymore."

The donor stool is checked for other germs such as hepatitis and HIV. Dr. Brandt says "In some cases after months of symptoms, it works in hours." Those most susceptible to the bacteria are the elderly, diabetics and pregnant women around the time of delivery. Dr. Brandt says "Taking just one pill of an antibiotic can do it." So when your doctor says it's just a cold, don't insist on antibiotics.