Most people would not call a 45-minute commute to another toilet their “dream job.”
But most people are not Alana Castro.
“My family jokes that I’ve always admired feces,” said Castro, 33, a nursing student from San Gabriel. “I’ll talk about poop with anyone. Everybody poops. There is nothing special about that. “
So when Castro saw an Instagram ad for Tustin’s medical lab that collects and pays for stool samples, she signed up. She now performs her daily duties there several times a week for $ 75 per visit.
“It’s my poop come true,” she said.
While the topic of defecation may seem funny and unpleasant to many, it is not a laughing matter for people with recurrent C. difficile infection, a disease also known as C. diff.
Seres Therapeutics is looking for a cure for a debilitating intestinal disease. After nearly a decade of research and clinical trials, Ceres is poised to present the first FDA-approved microbiome drug that could stop the recurrence of C. diff.
But before that can happen, the Massachusetts biotech firm needs stool donations from hundreds of healthy people.
C. diff is common in hospitals and can be caused by high doses of antibiotics prescribed to treat other conditions. Antibiotics often destroy the “good bacteria” in the gut, allowing harmful bacteria such as C. diff to grow.
While most patients recover, some are stuck in an endless cycle of suffering as the residual C. diff continually increases. At this point, trying to treat C. diff with even more antibiotics may kill the beneficial bacteria again.
“Diarrhea and cramps come back again and again,” said David Ege, CTO at Seres. “People don’t want to leave the house.”
More than 20,000 people die each year with dangerous bacteria.
Simply put, Ege said, the new drug “will kickstart the good bacteria” by allowing the body to defeat the festering bad bacteria.
“It is in capsule form and is prescribed in just three days, not on an ongoing basis,” he said.
Earlier this year, Seres acquired Tustin’s lab as a primary donation site. Participants from all over Southern California come during the day for their own business to be done locally.
“It’s not just someone mailing a sample,” Ege said. “We have strict control.”
Near Highway 5, Ege said Tustin’s site is ideal in terms of both its central location and demographics: “Southern California has a high percentage of healthy potential donors. This is an area where people are interested in active lifestyles and new science. “
One such outdoor donor is Miles Bochanski. The 30-year-old La Mirada resident and his wife are avid hikers who walked 1,680 miles from top to bottom in New Zealand a few years ago.
Given his love of country life, Bochanski does not consider feces to be scrupulous.
“On the hike, you bring a shovel, you dig a hole, you do it, you wipe it down, you carry away the toilet paper,” he said. “I’m very good at talking about poop.”
Like Castro, Bossianski discovered the program on Instagram. “I said, ‘Wow, I get paid for the poop? Cool, he recalled.
Bozianski visits the lab six times a week, usually before taking up marketing work at Biola University.
“You go in, you go about your business; you get in and out in 20 or 30 minutes, ”he said.
This is a serious mission. Due to strict hygiene practices, Bocyanxi does not bring his phone to the toilet for fun.
Yes, there are days when he just can’t perform. “Sometimes I was out of schedule,” he said. “Maybe my vacation outside the city ruined me, or I didn’t completely digest what I ate the last time. It can be frustrating because I know that patients rely on donors to get the material they need for treatment. ”
But laxatives are not allowed. “Your body should be in a natural state,” Bochanski said. “You can’t even take there.”
Castro has yet to experience a glitch with his system, but it came close for the first time last August. “I thought:“ I will succeed! “Then I sat down and started to get nervous,” she said.
The opposite happened last week when she became desperate. “On the way, I realized that I really needed to go,” said Castro. “I walked in and asked, ‘Can I go? Now? ‘”
Both Castro and Bochanski say that money is not the main incentive, but it is certainly nice.
Bochyanski has earned $ 2,500 so far. His wife is a full-time graduate student and they have a one-year-old son. “We now have a single income,” Bochyanski said. “It’s an easy way to generate additional income by helping people who need treatment. It’s a win-win. “
Castro, who walks through the waiting tables at school, agreed that “money wasn’t my only motivator.”
“I love helping other people,” she said. “My friends laugh at me about this. I can’t wait to tell them, “Look, I made $ 6,000 just for pooping.”
Her side fuss made her overestimate the value of a certain aspect, so to speak, of her self-esteem.
“I had to go twice the other day,” Castro said. “I told my boyfriend, ‘Now that I’m getting paid, I feel bad, flushing the other one down the toilet.’
The company continues to seek donations. For information about the Good Nature program, call (844) 476-6748 or visit takeaseat.com.