Banner Health News Center  

Gilbert man saves life of sister through fecal transplant


MESA, Ariz. (Dec. 11, 2012) –A few months ago, Ellen Christensen of East Mesa underwent a cutting edge procedure to save her life called fecal bacteriotherapy, otherwise known as a fecal transplant.

The first words out of some could be “ick” and that’s also what Christensen thought until she did some research and found that this procedure could treat her stubborn and potentially deadly clostridium difficile, otherwise known as C. diff.

It all started with an abscessed tooth. Christensen went to the dentist, was prescribed antibiotics and took the medication as directed.

Eventually, she started to get severe diarrhea and then a few days after that, noticed blood in her stools. Christensen went back, was prescribed another medication, but things just went from bad to worse.

The diarrhea continued and so did the blood. Eventually, she was diagnosed as having C. diff and had to be hospitalized at Banner Baywood Medical Center because of low blood pressure and severe dehydration. It seems the medication her dentist prescribed her for her abscessed tooth not only took care of the infection in her mouth, but wiped out all the good bacteria in her gut, causing bad bacteria to take over.

As she was being treated at Banner Baywood, she learned that Gastroenterologist Andrew Weinberg, MD, performed fecal transplants at the hospital. Christensen wasn’t getting any better and opted to have the procedure done. Her donor was her younger brother Ron Jones of Gilbert who overcame the “ick” factor quickly after learning that he could help save his older sister’s life.

The day of the procedure Jones produced his specimen, put it into a bag covered in saline solution and took it to the hospital for processing.
Once processed, Dr. Weinberg inserted the specimen into Ellen’s colon so that the good bacteria could return to her body. It worked!

Christensen is back to feeling better and has a good sense of humor about the situation that occurred. But mostly, she’s grateful for the doctors, nurses and for her little brother who helped save her life.        

Banner Baywood Medical Center opened in 1984 in Mesa, Ariz. and provides complete acute care services in a 342-bed hospital. Our 50,000 square-foot Emergency department treats a variety of ailments and offers advanced treatment areas, close to 58 exam rooms and medical imaging technology.

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