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Fecal Transplant Gives Cancer Survivor Hope

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After being treated for colon cancer, Lori Rettig was bed-ridden for a year with a disease known as C-Diff, but a rare fecal transplant has given her hope. After being treated for colon cancer, Lori Rettig was bed-ridden for a year with a disease known as C-Diff, but a rare fecal transplant has given her hope.
Dr. Mellow has begun performing a rare procedure called a fecal transplant. A fecal transplant is where liquefied stool from a healthy person is transplanted, during a colonoscopy into the colon of the sick person. Dr. Mellow has begun performing a rare procedure called a fecal transplant. A fecal transplant is where liquefied stool from a healthy person is transplanted, during a colonoscopy into the colon of the sick person.

By Alex Cameron, NEWS 9

OKLAHOMA CITY -- A metro woman was successfully treated for colon cancer, but then ended up bed-ridden for a year when bacteria attacked her colon.

The bacteria and the disease are known as C-Diff and the Lori Rettig might be in bed still if not for a rare transplant operation she underwent this month.

The doctor's office might seem like the last place someone who's suffered through a lengthy illness would want to be, but not Lori Rettig after the year she's had.

"It was terrible...diarrhea, like every ten minutes. Finally you just move into the bathroom, you just stay, and you're weak. You can't do anything. You're just out of commission," said Rettig.

Rettig had C-Diff, short for Clostridium Dificile, a bacteria that, in certain people, under certain circumstances produces a toxin that attacks the lining of the colon. The disease can sometimes be fatal.

"There are occasional patients who just get an initial very severe attack of it and can wind up dying from it. And then more commonly, there are people who get over it, but just keep having recurrence. They just can't clear the bacteria from their system," said Dr. Mark Mellow, the Director of Integris Digestive Health Center.

Dr. Mark Mellow said such cases, where antibiotics don't do the trick, are becoming more and more common, which is why Dr. Mellow has begun performing a rare procedure called a fecal transplant. A fecal transplant is where liquefied stool from a healthy person is transplanted, during a colonoscopy into the colon of the sick person.

"And the rationale is that the people with this disease do not have the appropriate bacteria to fight off the C-Diff, whereas normal stool has all these millions and millions of good bacteria that aid in that fight," Dr. Mellow said.

Lori Rettig was a bit grossed out by the idea, but only at first.

"After a while, when you're that sick that long and you're so sick, you don't really care whatever they do, if they can do something," said Rettig.

"I've never been in the "ick" factor group here. I think it's an exciting new treatment," Dr. Mellow said.

Rettig had the procedure done at the beginning of the month. She said it's too soon to say for certain that she's cured, but she's slowly regaining her strength and is very hopeful.

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