Eric leaves his job and hops a train. Then a bus. Then he walks some more. He passes countless toilets, and he needs to use them, but he doesn’t.
Eventually, Eric arrives at a nondescript men’s room 30 minutes away from MIT. A partition separates two toilets. There’s a square-tiled floor like in any public restroom. It’s unremarkable in every way, with one exception: A pit stop here can save lives.
Eric hangs a plastic collection bucket down inside the toilet bowl and does his business. When he’s finished, he puts a lid on the container, bags it up and walks his stool a few doors down the hall to OpenBiome, a small laboratory northwest of Boston that has developed a way to turn poop from extremely healthy people into medicine for really sick patients.
A lab technician weighs Eric’s “sample.” Over the past 2½ months, Eric has generated 10.6 pounds of poop over 29 visits, enough feces to produce 133 treatments for patients suffering from Clostridium difficile, an infection that kills 15,000 Americans a year and sickens half a million.
To donate, Eric had to pass a 109-point clinical assessment. There is a laundry list of factors that would disqualify a donor: obesity, illicit drug use, antibiotic use, travel to regions with high risk of contracting diseases, even recent tattoos. His stools and blood also had to clear a battery of laboratory screenings to make sure he didn’t have any infections.
After all that screening, only 3% of prospective donors are healthy enough to give. “I had no idea,” he says about his poop. “It turns out that it’s fairly close to perfect.”
And that, unlike most people’s poop, makes Eric’s worth money. OpenBiome pays its 22 active donors $40 per sample. They’re encouraged to donate often, every day if they can. Eric has earned about $1,000.
“It takes us a lot of time and effort to find these donors,” says OpenBiome’s research director, Mark Smith. “When we do find them, we want to keep them as engaged as possible and really want to compensate them for their time.”
Why is Eric’s poop so valuable?
A hundred trillion bacteria live inside your gut, some good, some bad. When patients take antibiotics for infections, sometimes they fail to work; good bacteria gets killed off while bad bacteria — C. difficile — grows unchecked.
The life-saving bacteria from the guts of people like Eric can help. When their healthy microbes are placed inside the intestines of a sick person they can chase out harmful C. difficile bacteria. It’s called a fecal transplant. The treatments are administered bottom-up, through a colonoscopy, or top-down, through a tube in the nose.
OpenBiome’s poop donors have created about 5,000 treatments, and the organization says the results have been stunning. Stinky human waste is an astonishingly simple cure: 90% of the patients get better.
“They’ll actually have this really transformational experience where they’ll be going to the bathroom 20 times a day and then have normal bowel movements sort of immediately or the next day,” Smith says.
The organization’s fecal transplants cost $385 to purchase and are providing a treatment to more than 350 hospitals in 47 states.
At OpenBiome’s lab, technician Christina Kim, working under a fume hood that sucks up odors, pulls the lid off Eric’s collection bucket and demonstrates how she turns poop into the life-saving treatment.
“It’s nice that this room is actually closed off because this is where the smelly part happens,” she says.
She examines the consistency of today’s offering. A nearby chart has descriptions and illustrations for seven types of stools. It was developed by a hospital in Bristol, England, as a visual guide.
Not all poop is acceptable.
Types one or two, defined by the Bristol Stool Chart as “like nuts” or “lumpy,” are too dry to process into a treatment.
If a donor’s stool is “mushy” or “watery” — that’s a type six or seven — then it can’t be used because it could be a sign the donor has a gastrointestinal infection.
The perfect poop is type three, which is “like a sausage but with cracks on its surface;” type four, which is “like a sausage or snake, smooth and soft;” or type five, “soft blobs with clear-cut edges (passed easily).”
“It’s actually an established medical chart,” Kim says with a chuckle. “It’s very important.”
Maybe it was the hot sauce he used on his quinoa and cheddar cheese casserole last night, or the banana and peanut butter he ate with a bowl of bran flakes and almond milk for breakfast, but Eric’s stool is type five, just barely acceptable for processing.
Kim scoops the feces into a clear plastic bag and adds a saline solution. For two minutes the bag sloshes around inside a machine called the “jumbo mix.” The fiber in Eric’s stool is filtered out, and what’s left behind is a liquid teaming with helpful bacteria.
With a pipette, Kim transfers the watery remnants of Eric’s poop into 250 ml plastic bottles. On average, one stool donation fills four, but today Eric’s impressive half-pound sample fills seven. One bottle equals one treatment.
The 133 treatments Eric has provided won’t be distributed until he’s passed a secondary healthy screening. For now, they sit frozen in quarantine inside a giant freezer.
Most donors head on their way after handing over their sample, but during today’s visit Eric asks if he can see the treatments he helped create.
Cool air blasts his face as Kim opens the freezer. His jaw drops at the sight of his icy brown bottles, which look like frozen chocolate milkshakes. The bacteria inside them is still alive, cryogenically preserved at -112°F.
“That’s fantastic! Holy cow!” Eric says, beaming. “It’s unreal. I never thought I would be staring at my poop frozen in a freezer destined to help people across the country. It’s really cool.”
But did he do it for the money? The ridiculously easy money?
“Not at all,” he says. “It’s a nice perk, of course.”
If you’re inspired to donate like Eric, you have to live in the Boston area. And you may have to wait. Some 6,000 people have already signed up. OpenBiome usually invites about 50 people for interviews every week.
“It’s easier to get into MIT and Harvard than it is to get enrolled as one of our donors,” Smith says. “A lot of our donors are pretty excited to take something they do every day otherwise and save people’s lives with it.”
I guess this falls in the “thank you for sharing” category…….
All German universities are now free to Americans and all other international students. The last German state to charge tuition at its universities struck down the fees this week.
Even before Germany abolished college tuition for all students, the price was a steal. Typically semester fees were around $630. What’s more, German students receive many perks including discounts for food, clothing and events, as well as inexpensive or even free transportation.
In explaining why Germany made this move, Dorothee Stapelfeldt, a Hamburg senator, called tuition fees “unjust” and added that “they discourage young people who do not have a traditional academic family background from taking up study. It is a core task of politics to ensure that young women and men can study with a high quality standard free of charge in Germany.”
Actually, German universities were free up until 2006 when they started charging tuition. That triggered such a crush of criticism that German states began phasing out this policy. Lower Saxony was the last holdout.
It’s too bad that politicians in the U.S. don’t feel that a college education is worth supporting appropriately. State aid to the nation’s public universities took a nosedive during the 2008 recession and education funding remains well below those levels. The average state is spending 23 percent less per student than before the recession, according to a report by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
Actually, state support has been declining for public universities for a quarter of a century. Using an interactive tool from The Chronicle of Higher Education, you can see how state government subsidies have cratered at individual institutions.
With the average undergrad borrower now leaving school with more than $29,000 in debt, the free ride in Germany can look awfully tempting.
How to handle the language barrier
German is not an easy language to learn. Fortunately, however, there are international language programs in Germany, which have become very popular with international students before they tackle obtaining a degree in a different language.
What’s more, an increasing number of German universities are offering degrees in English. These are often called international studies programs or in some other way have the word international in their title.
There are other countries like Denmark that do this too, when will the greedy Americans learn the real value of an education and what it means to our future.
More about black lies
Matthew Whitehurst is a 23 year old Air Force jet engine mechanic who has served in the Middle East, Japan, and South Korea. But, it’s an assault in Uptown Charlotte that could keep him from a special deployment to Europe next month.
“I’m angry and I want whoever did this to pay for what they did,” Matthew’s father, Todd Whitehurst, told WBTV.
He said his son and two friends spent Saturday night at the Panthers game. They left early, headed to uptown for some pizza.
Matthew told his father the three walked by the Transit Center just as protesters against the Kerrick Mistrial got to the Transit Center and the EpiCenter. He said they were assaulted – he was sucker punched from behind. The blow fractured his jaw.
Todd Whitehurst said his son told him that he “turned around, saw a black male with a red bandana and dreadlocks as the one he said hit him. And there was probably 15 to 20 of them that looked like that.”
Matthew and his friends said they walked immediately about a half block to where police were standing and filed a police report.
Todd Whitehurst said “Charlotte Mecklenburg Police did not at their request go down to where those guys were hanging out to point them out.”
A spokesperson for Charlotte Mecklenburg Police told WBTV the case is still under investigation. Officers said they don’t know if it was a protester who hit Matthew Whitehurst. Police said they know the assault happened at the Transit Center around the time demonstrators were there.
“I don’t think it’s anyone that blended into the crowd. I think it’s a group of gangs,” Todd Whitehurst said. “And there are valid protesters in their opinion that have the right to do whatever they want to. But I think some of these gang elements get in there and think it’s an excuse to do something when they don’t have a right to.”
Now, three days later, the young serviceman is in agony – unable to open his mouth.
Todd Whitehurst said he is extremely upset.
While his son initially refused medical attention, he didn’t make it very far when his friends were forced to call an Uber driver for a ride to the hospital.
Matthew Whitehurst had surgery Tuesday morning.
“I just drove my son home who has his jaw wired shut, and a mandible fracture in two with a plate and his jaw wired shut. And he threw up on the way home with his mouth shut.”
Todd Whitehurst said he wants justice for his son. He wants police to check surveillance cameras around the Transit Center to see if the attack was caught on camera.
“A bunch of hoodlums that are throwing their lives away punched my son from behind who is serving his country and has his stuff together,” Todd Whitehurst said.
Some general observations:
As you can see my vacation was a pleasurable week and I met some incredible people, and as Mac Arthur said “I WILL RETURN”.
Hanging out at the business of the people I was visiting, I also learned there is a fairly strong LGBT community there. Talking to two of the “Ladies” there I learned a lot about that there. They loved to sit and talk about America and I enjoyed their Filipino life stories.
They are very good high quality people, and although I have known several transvestites before they were of exceptional quality people and are not into the in your face attitude you see in America. They do not want anything extra just to be accepted for who they are and go about their lives in a quality manner. And they do suffer some prejudices there.
I will always be friends with them for I believe in having quality in my life at all times.
I noticed on the plane home, there was an elderly gentleman who was travelling with a very young Filipina who was very beautiful from the start but had obviously had some “enhancements” done and it just struck me as he had developed a Barbie doll toy for himself and I was kind of embarrassed for him. Give me a woman who is just herself and I can accept her for just that.
Here is a picture of some power lines I thought were interesting:
You think you would ever see that here? I guess it is probably safe and almost all the buildings are cement there but looks a little scary.
So summoning it up:
The people are wonderful
People accept you for who you are very easily (but be careful if you’re an asshole)
The businesses understand customer service and not in a false P.C. Fad of the day way
The food is incredible everywhere I ate.
The traffic is something I relish to drive in someday (I have always wanted to do a destruction derby)
The LGBT community wants just live their lives and not gain advantage from it
From everything I saw the Family unit is very strong
It must be noted I was privy to some good quality people during that time, the kids were respectful and honest, and the relatives all are involved and supportive in each other’s lives. It may be different with some people over there and the struggles are obvious but overall my experience was nothing but good and a lot of fun. And after the wakeup call I got from the immigration asswipes when I returned I could seriously live there and just get used to the humidity, it just might be worth it.
Cindy Mills, who ran a Subway restaurant franchise in Pensacola, Fla., said she started reaching out to Subway executives about Jared Fogle’s interest in children after he spoke openly about it with her.
In total, Mills talked to three executives with Subway’s advertising unit, known as the Subway Franchisee Advertising Fund Trust (SFTAT), she told Business Insider in an interview that included her lawyer, Robert Beasley. SFAFT pools and manages advertising funds for the restaurant chain’s franchisees.
Fogle, who has been Subway’s most recognized spokesman for 15 years, has admitted to child pornography and traveling to have sex with minors, according to prosecutors in Indiana, where Fogle lives. Fogle, famous for losing about 245 pounds on a diet of Subway sandwiches in college, is expected to plead guilty to the allegations at a later date.
Subway has said it has cut off all ties with its former pitchman but Mill’s allegations, which emerged Thursday, threaten to muddy the restaurant chain as well.
“Subway is continuing its investigation regarding any potential concerns it may have received concerning former spokesperson Jared Fogle,” Subway said in an emailed statement. “The company will communicate further once the investigation is complete.”
Mills said she met Fogle at a Subway event and had an affair with him, according to BI’s reports. During that time, Fogle told her he’d had sex with prostitutes between the ages of 9 and 16 years old in Thailand and the US, she said. He also asked her to set up a meeting for him with Mills’ cousin, who was underage at the time, she told BI.
Mills told Jeff Moody, head of SFAFT, about Jared’s disturbing behavior in a phone call, she said. She also shared her concerns with two other SFAFT executives at a Subway-sponsored NASCAR event in Phoenix, she said.
She said she did not go to the police because she was afraid of Jared’s money and power.
Mills declined a follow-up interview because she never intended the article that came out of her interview with BI to focus on her conversations with Subway’s executives, her lawyer told USA TODAY.
“Shes not at all interested in being out there in the public on this angle. There’s no benefit to her,” Beasley said. “It’s not her goal to get into the Subway angle of this,” he said.
Mills went to the F.B.I with compromising texts she had from Fogle after Russell Taylor, the executive director of Fogle’s foundation, was arrested on child pornography in April, Beasley said. Mills did that to ensure Fogle was also investigated, and she agreed to the BI interview to talk about that, Beasley said.
Still, Beasley confirmed that Mills complained to Subway’s ad executives about Fogle’s interest in young girls because she wanted them “to be relieved of the advertising obligation” that required her, as an franchisee, to have Fogle’s image in her store. “She couldn’t stand looking at Jared knowing what she knew about him,” Beasley said.
Fogle’s arrest comes as Subway struggles to fight off growing competition from restaurant chains like Chik-Fil-A and Chipotle.
Hey Jared don’t drop the soap in the shower in Prison…….