Update: Since we first reported on the work of the public "poop bank" OpenBiome in December, The Washington Post calculated that you can make up to $13,000 a year as an OpenBiome donor. Seriously. If you make it through the exacting selection process (and you have to be in immaculate health to donate poop for fecal transplants, so that's a big "if"), OpenBiome will pay you $40 for each stool sample. Donate five times a week, and the organization will throw in a $50 bonus, making for a cool $250 per week, or $13,000 a year. (For reference, that's just $2,080 shy of what you'd make in a year earning the federal minimum wage.) Not a bad payoff for carrying out a vital bodily function — and helping those in need.
You already know that everybody poops. What you may not know is that poop can very literally heal those suffering from infection — specifically the gut infection Clostridium difficile, or C. diff. It's a bacterium that inflames the colon and leads to diarrhea, fever, nausea, loss of appetite — and, in 14,000 to 30,000 cases a year, death. But, fecal transplants — healthy poop transplanted into the colons of sufferers of C. diff — can cure a whopping 90% of cases. What's more, you can take action to help.
After witnessing the suffering of a friend diagnosed with C. diff, Mark Smith and James Burgess cofounded OpenBiome, America's first public "poop bank." Now, OpenBiome facilitates fecal transplants across the country. The process of finding and screening healthy poop donors is no easy task, as Smith and Burgess explain in the video above: OpenBiome's donors undergo a "grueling 107-question clinical interview and pass 27 laboratory tests on their blood and stool," after which the OpenBiome team processes, freezes, and tracks stool samples before delivering them to hospitals nationwide.
Just one year ago, Smith and Burgess noted, there was no single organized system for screening, collecting, processing, and delivering stool samples to hospitals, a state of affairs that forced C. diff patients to resort to risky DIY transplants. So far, OpenBiome has collected 120 pounds of poo, and its goal over the next year is to deliver to as many hospitals as it takes for 90% of the country's population to live within a two-hour drive of one of OpenBiome's clinical partners. Smith and Burgess need $100,000 of laboratory equipment to reach their goal, and they're calling for your donations to raise the funds. As they put it, this holiday season, "You're gonna spend your money on crap anyway. Why not spend it on crap that can save a life?" A solid argument indeed. Click through to their Indiegogo campaign to learn more, and to further their cause.