New Yorker: Out Loud

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A weekly conversation about what's new in The New Yorker.


Elevating Excrement

November 24th, 2014

Episode 401 of 447 episodes

In this week’s magazine, Emily Eakin reports on fecal transplantation, a medical procedure in which the stool from a healthy person is transferred to the bowel of a sick person to restore the balance of flora in the latter’s gut. On Out Loud, Eakin explains that it’s “a procedure that grew out of desperation”—patients suffering from certain untreatable conditions, such as infection with the superbug C. difficile, formed a D.I.Y. fecal-transplant movement. In a conversation with Nick Thompson, the editor of newyorker.com, Eakin and Alan Burdick—an editor at the magazine, as well as the editor of the Web site’s Elements blog—discuss the science world’s fascination with the microbiome, the F.D.A.’s attempts to regulate the procedure, and the reasons fecal transplantation caught their interest as a story worth reporting. Eakin says, “the notion that stool—something that we associate with aversion and repulsion—was being elevated into a substance that was lifesaving and precious was tremendously appealing.”

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