Flickr/Steven Lilley

It’s for a good health cause, but encouraging people to, uh, contribute is a challenge.

Surely you’re familiar with donation banks for blood, semen, or internal organs such as kidneys. But the Netherlands is taking the concept into new territory: now you can donate your poop.

Yes, that’s right. Starting this month, staff at the Leiden University Medical Center will be on the hunt for donors to provide them with fine, healthy stools to stock an institution that is the first of its kind in Europe: the Dutch Donor Feces Bank. The idea of medical staff seeking out and holding onto a substance that most people are extremely keen to get rid of might sound odd, but the bank’s work could indeed provide some Dutch people with much needed ... relief. Poop transplants, already pioneered by facilities in the U.S., have proven a viable treatment program to alleviate the nasty symptoms of a complaint called Clostridium difficile infection.

The infection causes around 3,000 hospital admissions in the Netherlands annually. Typically it occurs after somebody’s gut flora have been compromised by treatment with antibiotics, leaving more space for the Clostridium difficile bacteria to populate the intestine. Most sufferers recover soon enough, but for around 5 percent of patients the condition can become chronic—and excruciating. It’s in these cases that a stool transplant can be beneficial, allowing the normal gamut of organisms present in a healthy person’s intestine to repopulate the gut.

The transplant process is relatively non-intrusive. The donated matter is simply introduced into the patient’s duodenum via a colonoscopy. This is, of course, pretty gross. It’s still no doubt offers great benefits for people who are suffering.

The question remains: How is the feces bank going to encourage people to, er, contribute? Giving a donation of this sort doesn’t automatically stoke feelings of valuable sacrifice that spur donors for other health conditions. The bank is currently on the hunt for suppliers, but commenting in the facility’s opening press release, Leiden University Medical Center’s Ed Kuijper acknowledges that this specific form of donation may have something of an image problem:

“Stool donation isn’t established yet, in the way that giving blood is. I think it’s a matter of getting used to it.”

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. A map of apartment searches in the U.S.
    Maps

    Where America’s Renters Want to Move Next

    A new report that tracks apartment searches between U.S. cities reveals the moving aspirations of a certain set of renters.

  2. A cat lays flat on a bench at a park on the outskirts of Tokyo.
    Life

    Why Don't Americans Use Their Parks at Night?

    Most cities aren’t fond of letting people use parks after dark. But there are good lifestyle, environmental, and safety reasons to reconsider.

  3. A man walks by an abandoned home in Youngstown, Ohio
    Life

    How Some Shrinking Cities Are Still Prospering

    A study finds that some shrinking cities are prosperous areas with smaller, more-educated populations. But they also have greater levels of income inequality.

  4. a photo of yellow vest protesters in Paris, France.
    Equity

    To Understand American Political Anger, Look to ‘Peripheral France’

    French geographer Christophe Guilluy has a controversial diagnosis of working-class resentment in the age of Trump, Brexit, and the Yellow Vests.

  5. Equity

    Why I Found My Community in a Starbucks

    I was reluctant to support a corporate chain. But in my neighborhood, it’s one of the only places I could have formed a relationship with someone like Sammy.

×