The other day I was sitting on the subway, dressed as a mermaid, chatting to a friend about poop. We were having a delightful conversation about fecal transplants, and poop donation (you know, typical girl-talk), when she told me that she has a friend who is a regular, one might even say ‘prized’, poop donor. I squealed, in the way an excited mermaid always does at the mention of a real life poop donor, and quickly got the details of this prized pooper. Below I share the fascinating and comical conversation I had with this individual – we will call him ‘Mr. P’, not because he asked me to hide his identity, but because I think it adds intrigue and excitement to the story. Enjoy.
Mr. P., where do you donate and how did you get into this wild world of poop donation?
I responded to an ad in the local newspaper calling for donors. I have donated blood before, but have a habit of passing out, so the Red Cross sent me a letter saying they didn’t want my blood anymore. Donating poo is so much easier. I donate at the Center for Digestive Diseases in Sydney.
For those aspiring donors out there, tell us, what does it take to be a good donor?
You need to be over 18 years old, relatively healthy, and able to get your poo to the clinic by 8 am. They also ask you to avoid certain foods, such as too much alcohol, processed meats, raw fish, and corn (the corn kernels get stuck in their filter and have to be picked out by hand).
Mr. P., give us an insight into a typical day as a poop donor – what does it look like for you?
I poo into a plastic takeaway container and put my name, the date, and time on a sticker on the lid. The first few times were a bit tricky, squatting over the container in the shower recess, but since then I have worked out a method where I sit slightly higher than the toilet seat and manage to do a Mr. Whippy (translation for USA = ice cream truck) like poo into the container quite easily.
Occasionally if I do a really large poo I will weigh it. My record is 485g (1.07 lbs)! I would love to break the 500g mark one day.
Once, after an especially large poo in the morning, I went to the clinic to pick up some more containers. I was in the waiting room and the researcher came out and very publicly thanked me for my great donation that morning, which she was quite impressed with.
I used to donate 5 times per week but now I only donate when they need me, which would be anywhere from 4-5 times per week, to not at all.
Do you know what they do with your sample at the clinic?
My poo was previously used to treat patients directly via enema (it was mixed with two other donors). Now my poo is being used for research. They are trying to turn the good bacteria in my poo into a capsule (or “crapsule”).
Have you ever donated bacteria from other bodily sites?
Now you are weirding me out (jokes). Didn’t know that was an option.
Your poop sounds like it is pretty desirable at the clinic. Have you ever thought of renegotiating the price?
I started out getting $20 a poo, now it is $50.
Do you ever flush a poop now, or does that feel like money going down the drain?
The clinic is only open Monday – Friday, so weekend poops go down the drain.
Does being a poop donor change the way you live your life?
My diet has always been relatively healthy, but knowing that no one is receiving my poo on the weekend means I can safely have a few drinks.
Does it feel weird to imagine your poop in someone else? Would you be tempted to meet one of the recipients and see how it has helped them?
Funnily enough, my auntie has been to the clinic to receive this treatment. She lives out of town and ironically, stayed at my house for 2 weeks while she was receiving the treatment. She didn’t receive my poo because my poo was being used for research at the time. I did feel slightly ripped off that she was charged $7000 for this treatment, while I receive $50 a day for the raw material.
How has the face of poop donation changed since you got involved in the game?
These questions get funnier each time… “the face of poop donation”. I guess you have to have a sense of humor studying poop. Five years ago when I started, the professor running this clinic was considered a bit of an outcast by the medical community but after some successful trials his reputation has improved.
From what I understand, you have a poo industry, “Big Poo”, in the U.S. There are only two clinics in Australia I can think of where people can donate their poo.
Is there a stigma around being a poop donor?
It is amazing how many people I tell who know someone who has received treatment at the clinic. I am quite open about it, but maybe recipients are less likely to tell people about it.
I am proud to be a poo donor and would put a bumper sticker on my car, if I could find one.
Tell us some funny poop donation stories.
- Every three months I have to have a blood test and have my poop tested, which requires samples over three consecutive days. The clinic asked me to keep those samples in my fridge at home. My wife refuses to let this happen.
- There was a time where I rode my bike up to the clinic in the morning to drop off my donation with the poop sitting in the basket. I got a call from the researcher that day asking if I was feeling healthy and well. I said “yes” and was mystified as to why I received the call. Later in the day I remembered that the road to the clinic is quite bumpy and the poop must have been shaken up in the basket on the trip to the clinic.
- Occasionally, on special occasions such as Valentine’s Day, or the first day of spring I will write a little Limerick on the sticky label on the lid of my poo, i.e., roses are red, violets are blue, ….you can probably work out the rest.
- We have had au pairs living with us in the past and I have offered them a percentage of my payment to drop the poo at the clinic but none have accepted.