18 Sep 2012

Transplant offers hope for bowel complaints

9:47 am on 18 September 2012

A Waikato patient has had what could be the first faecal transplant in a New Zealand public hospital to treat bowel disease.

Some doctors overseas are using the unpleasant-sounding procedure to repopulate the gut with healthy bacteria from a donor. Patients are excited, but doctors say caution is needed.

The treatment is performed overseas to eradicate a stubborn gut infection but may also be used for conditions such as ulcerative colitis.

Kelly Mawkes, from Hamilton, underwent the new procedure at Waikato Hospital three months ago for ulcerative colitis using a sample donated by her partner.

Ms Mawkes says it was transferred during a colonoscopy and relieved her symptoms almost straightaway.

Gastroenterologists say the procedure is interesting, but little is known about the effects and further work is needed to ensure that it is safe.

The Crohn's and Colitis group agrees, saying it will not be a first-line treatment but could help some patients.