What was your dream job growing up? Childhood is a magical time in life, a time when anything at all is possible and no position is out of your reach – but it sure has changed since my time in the playground. While people my age used to imagine making it as a ballerina or a detective, today’s employment daydreams are often a little different. Nowadays, kids go to sleep fantasising about long careers as famous Instagrammers and Human Ken dolls.
Although, one thing that no child – whether they were born in the past five years or the last one thousand – is likely to have dreamed of is being a professional poop donor. But it turns out that even dreams you never knew you had can come true.
That’s right. While the vast majority of us do away our faeces without a second thought, we’ve been missing out on the fact that we could be making big money. Let me introduce you to OpenBiome, a non-profit stool bank that is ready and willing to pay thousands for your poo. OpenBiomen pays $40 per donation, with a reported $50 extra for those who come five days a week. This translates into $250 per week, meaning that you could earn up to $13,000 a year just by sending your excrement their way. Talk about flushing money down the toilet. Why haven’t we done this sooner?
So, firstly, let’s backtrack. Who would actually pay for your poop and why on earth would they do it? The collection of healthy poop is made necessary by Clostridium Difficile, also known as C.difficile or C. diff, which is a bacterium that can infect the bowel and cause serious inflammation of the colon. Clostridium Difficile affects roughly half a million Americans each year and one in five patients find that the infection comes back, even after they take antibiotics. Tragically, approximately 30,000 people each year die from the infection in America – often when their perforated bowel spills bacteria from the intestine into their abdominal cavity, leading to peritonitis, a life-threatening infection. Many pass away within 30 days of the initial diagnosis.
With antibiotics regularly failing sufferers, medical health specialists knew they had to come up with a cure, fast. Soon enough, a new treatment called fecal microbiota transplantation (FMT) was developed, the process where faeces from a carefully screened, healthy stool donor is transplanted into the colon of the patient. Though the mechanism has yet to be determined, it is believed that FMT works by repopulating the patient’s microbiome with diverse microorganisms that competitively exclude C. difficile, instead filling the body with good bacteria. Amazingly, the process is said to cure 85 per cent of patients after the first try.
Yup, weirdly enough, giving your poop away could genuinely save someone’s life. Cool, right? It’s kind of like you’re some sort of superhero, but instead of exercising super strength, telepathy and invisibility, you just donate your stools to those in need. Basically the same thing, right?
However, there is a catch in that the non-profit organisation doesn’t take just anyone’s stools. Donors must be between 18 and 50 years old during the donation period and their body mass index (BMI) must stand at 30 or below. In addition, donors who wish to give to OpenBiome must be local to Boston, Cambridge or Somerville, Massachusettes. But that’s just the start of the qualifications you must have.
In order to donate, you don’t just have to be healthy, you have to practically be the Gwyneth Paltrow of the faeces world. One must pass a series of health screenings to ensure their contribution is safe to use, with stool donors going through at least two rounds of rigorous screenings, in which professionals test both their blood and their stools.
According to the website, applicants are invited to complete an online health questionnaire, similar those that prospective blood donors answer. After this, the clinical assessment and safety team review your answers and typically get back to you within two weeks with the results. If you pass the questionnaire stage, you will be invited to make an appointment for a health assessment by medical staff.
Your stools and blood will then be tested to determine whether you have any potentially infectious pathogens or other risk factors. If you don’t, you’re well on your way to becoming a poop champ. When a spot opens up for a new stool donor, the organisation will contact qualified members of the Stool Donor Registry, and any donor who has passed the health assessments, stool test and blood test can contribute their goods for 60 days. Their poop is then sent to more than 1,000 medical centres across the country, as well as used in more than a dozen clinical trials testing fecal transplantation for ulcerative colitis, irritable bowel syndrome, and other disorders
The website states: “After 60 days of donating, you will undergo the health assessment and blood and stool screens again. If you pass, the stool you donated will be released to treat patients all over the country! You are welcome to keep donating for another 60 days, and many donors do.”
So, what do you reckon? Are you ready to be a hero and start saving lives by donating your faeces? It’s most likely one of the weirdest day jobs in the entire world, but somehow one of the most benevolent positions out there. Just think how flushed you’d be.