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HBF helps life-changing clinical trial get green light

Shae Spark
2 minutes

People hugging

Western Australians experiencing the debilitating and painful symptoms of the life-threatening digestive system infection, Clostridium difficile have new hope, thanks to a clinical trial by the Australian Red Cross Blood Service in Perth and Fiona Stanley Hospital.

A newly-formed three-year partnership with HBF gave the Blood Service the funding it required to officially announce the pilot, which will provide Fiona Stanley Hospital with a reliable supply of donor stool for faecal microbiota transplant, treating patients with recurring Clostridium difficile infection (C. difficile).

Latest data shows approximately 2,500 people with recurrent C. difficile in Australia could benefit from faecal microbiota transplant (FMT).

Local archaeologist and HBF member, Fiona Hook, was diagnosed with C. difficile in 2017 and when traditional antibiotics failed, Fiona received an FMT at Fiona Stanley Hospital.

“I am such an active, energetic person normally, but I physically just wasn't capable. I was very tired and very unwell. I was going to the toilet every 20 minutes at some stages of my illness and was in excruciating pain," Fiona said.

Fiona understands some people may find the procedure a bit unpalatable at first, but she didn’t hesitate when offered the transplant.

“I knew if I kept taking antibiotics there was only a tiny chance they'd work, and the side effects were horrible. I'm so happy to hear about this pilot so more people can have access to reliable transplant material and be cured, just like I was.”

The pilot is scheduled to begin in mid-2020. The Blood Service will begin by recruiting around 50 healthy volunteers from an already identified pool. The donations will be processed and tested before being supplied to Fiona Stanley Hospital for transplantation into patients.

HBF’s partnership with the Blood Service is the first of many planned for its brand-new Community Partnerships Program, launched this year.

HBF Chief Executive Officer, John Van Der Wielen said Fiona’s story epitomised why HBF selected the Blood Service pilot for its inaugural Community Partnership.

“FMT clearly has the potential to restore peoples’ quality of life. We’re extremely proud to help unlock the potential of this life-changing therapy, and hopefully give thousands more Western Australians, like Fiona, their healthy lives back,” John said.

HBF’s Community Partnerships Program is a key pillar of its newly-formed Community Engagement Program, which includes employee workplace giving, fundraising, volunteering and blood donations by HBF employees to the Australian Red Cross Blood Service.

In addition to the three-year Community Partnerships, HBF also provides ongoing Community Grants periodically throughout the year. The grants provide one-off funding (from $1,000 - $10,000 per grant) for local health initiatives.

Community organisations can find out more at https://www.hbf.com.au/community.

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