When Nothing Else Works
The miraculous cure that gave LeRoy Sonnenberg his life back

It began with a little cut on his hand, and when you see LeRoy Sonnenberg’s big, hard-working hands, you know they’ve been cut before.

That’s why he paid it no attention. By evening, however, his hand was swollen to twice its size and turning purple.

Deadly infection

Within a week, LeRoy found himself in the throes of a potentially fatal infection known as clostridium difficile (C. difficile), an infection of the colon brought on by the use of antibiotics.

LeRoy’s infection was extreme. “I was going to the bathroom 10 times a day. Everything ran through me like water. Then I started bleeding.”

One more option to try

After weeks of intensive antibiotic therapy, one of LeRoy’s doctors told him, “You are very close to dying.”

The medication had reduced the infection’s impact on his body. But long-time use could lead to fatal liver disease.

That’s when his doctor told him about one other option – Fecal Microbial Transplantation (FMT), or simply fecal transplant, a procedure that involves transplanting stool from a healthy person into the large intestine of the person with the infection.

Miracle cure

LeRoy immediately agreed to the procedure.

“Within three days of the transplant, I had my life back,” he said. “It was incredible. That’s why our family made a gift in support of Dr. Kao’s research. So others can benefit from this treatment the way I did.”

Dr. Dina Kao, gastroenterologist at the University of Alberta Hospital, performed the procedure on LeRoy.

“Our cure rate after a single fecal transplant is 90%. After two treatments it rises to 97%.”

Donors advance further studies

Thanks to the Sonnenberg family and to donors who support the University Hospital Foundation’s Medical Research Competition, Dr Kao is now leading a study that will analyze the effects of regularly scheduled fecal transplants on patients with Crohn’s Disease, a debilitating chronic inflammatory disease of the intestines.

“This is the ultimate bench-to-bedside research. We are just at the tip of the iceberg as far as knowing what this treatment can do.”

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