Before you start a side hustle or beg your boss for a raise, you might want to consider pooping into a cup. For real: you can cash in on your bowel movements and save lives while you’re at it.
Much like people get paid to donate blood or sperm, there’s an increasing demand for healthy stool donors, and it turns out researchers are willing to pay them a pretty penny. But before we talk dollars, let’s start with the looming question.
Why Would Anyone Pay for Your Poop?
Believe it or not, there are certain illnesses that can be treated by a groundbreaking medical treatment called Fecal Microbiota Transplantation (FMT). Also known as a fecal transplant, the doctor introduces donor stool into the patient’s gut by way of a colonoscopy, nasal tubes, or swallowed capsules. The healthy gut microbiomes help fight off deadly infections.
FMT was originally developed to treat a life-threatening colon bacteria called Clostridium Difficile Infection or C. difficile. However, healthy poop has also shown promising results in the treatment of ulcerative colitis, inflammatory bowel disease, crohn’s disease, irritable bowel syndrome, and other infectious diseases.
Stool donations are collected in labs across the world, but leading the charge is OpenBiome, a nonprofit stool bank in Boston that has been collecting, analyzing, and shipping poop all over the United States since 2013. "I never thought that after getting my PhD I'd start mailing poop around," said OpenBiome co-founder Mark Smith, "But here I am."
What’s the Payout for a Poop Donation?
Doctors are desperate for poop. Compensation varies depending on the recipient, but if you live in the Boston area, you can get $40 a pop from OpenBiome, with a $50 bonus if you donate five days a week. That’s $250 a week or $13,000 a year. Not bad for a job that requires nothing but sitting on the toilet.
"Everyone thinks it's great that they're making money doing such an easy thing," said OpenBiome co-founder Carolyn Edelstein, "But they also love to hear us say, 'Look, your poop just helped this lady who's been sick for nine years go to her daughter's graduation.'"
Pooping into a cup just may just be the easiest way to make money. However, in order for your poop to be profitable, you have to undergo a rigorous screening test.
Do You Have What It Takes to be a Poop Donor?
FMT practitioners are picky about their poop. In fact, it can cost up to $5,000 to see if a turd has what it takes to treat illnesses such as a difficile infection.
"It's harder to become a donor than it is to get into MIT," said Mark Smith (who actually earned his PhD in microbiology there). Out of thousands of potential donors who've expressed interest in donating their poop, only about 4% pass the extensive medical questioning and stool testing.
The screening process for potential donors starts with a 109-point clinical health assessment: blood pressure, fitness level, allergies, medications, drug usage, etc. OpenBiome recruits college students from a nearby gym to ensure they’re getting the healthiest fecal matter in Boston.
But a clean bill of health isn’t enough. In order for a stool sample to be usable, it must meet consistency guidelines. For this, healthy donors must refer to the Bristol Stool Chart. If your consistently in the Type 3-5 range, you make the cut:
How to Find a STOOL BANK
OpenBiome is the most popular stool donation bank in the country, so if you’re in the Greater Boston Area, it’s worth a trip to Somerville (no, you can’t mail your poop to Boston). Universities and research facilities across the country are always looking for new donors. A Google search for “stool donation near [CITY]” should turn up at least a few results.
Think twice next time you drop a deuce—you could be flushing money down the toilet.