Microbioma Microbioma.org full history and review

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Michael Harrop

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I had been looking for a high-quality donor for myself for years. I had mostly been on Reddit but joined Facebook to try to find more people interested in FMT. I was extremely poor and had no knowledge of creating websites or starting up projects like this. So when "Ivan Watson" popped up with a new website for finding stool donors I jumped at the chance to volunteer, and I tried to get the whole community involved in finding donors for all of us.

They had the platform, and I had the microbiome knowledge & expertise. I helped set up the English version of the website and ran the North American portion independently for a few years. I put my own money, and hundreds of hours, into finding & screening donors. I left Microbioma on amicable terms for a variety of reasons. I had the option to use their donor for free, due to the 2 years of volunteer work I did for them, but declined to do so due to the issues in the link below.


Close to a year after I left, someone reported that Ivan lied to them about Microbioma's donor's medical conditions (dermatitis), and the recipient contracted the donor's dermatitis/eczema. On Facebook, Ivan started doubling down on more and more lies. From my time with them, I had proof that he was lying, so I shared it. I was then removed from the Facebook FMT group by an admin that had largely been between "afk and reasonable", so it was quite odd.

As you'll see below, the people behind Microbioma have now proven themselves to be straight-up scammers, going to incredibly unethical lengths to sell their product to ignorant people. By far, they have the most reports of people getting worse. They seem to have overtaken the previous #1 in regards to astroturfing, making & using fake accounts, hiring people to do so, etc.. Yet everything they're doing seems to be entirely effective. So much so that they've been able to further increase their prices due to high demand. Anyone still associating themselves with this outfit has lost all credibility.

"Sue Pa" seems to be a ringleader and has been acting like Ivan's alt account ever since he was exposed to be a serial liar. Her behavior has been completely irrational ever since she popped up on the scene, and she's had a dozen accounts banned on reddit. From the get-go, she has been mimicking me in many ways, and they continue to mimic and leach off of me.



29 Nov 2018. Trying to coordinate action among the community to increase the availability of high quality FMT donors.
(11 comments on /r/FecalTransplant).

19 Feb 2019. Microbioma.org is a worldwide project to acquire high quality FMT donors, and connect them with recipients.
(13 comments on /r/FecalTransplant).

07 Nov 2019. Finally got a good enough health-day to make this video covering microbioma.org and FMT. Hopefully it will help find donors.
(25 comments on /r/HumanMicrobiome).

23 Dec 2019. I shared the microbioma video and site with hundreds of college and professional athletes and got only 1 volunteer who didn't qualify. Many were even majoring in biology, microbiology, health science, pre-med, etc.. This is ridiculous.
(71 comments on /r/HumanMicrobiome).

29 Dec 2019. Thoughts on this microbioma script for a whiteboard video? Also I fixed the audio of the previous video.
(12 comments on /r/HumanMicrobiome).

19 Jan 2020. Thoughts on these spokesperson videos? Hire one of these people to do the microbioma.org video instead of the impersonal whiteboard video?
(24 comments /r/Microbioma), (6 comments /r/HumanMicrobiome).

30 Jan 2020. Crowd funding, advertisements, spokesperson video.
(20 comments on /r/Microbioma).

03 May 2020. New Microbioma.org video. In the top 1% of healthiest people? Get paid for your poop! Microbioma.org Give a poop, save a life.
(13 comments on /r/HumanMicrobiome), (12 comments on /r/Microbioma).

16 Aug 2020. Looking to leave microbioma.org and start a separate FMT project in the US.
(23 comments on /r/HumanMicrobiome).

18 Jul 2021. Microbioma FMT - Failure Conditions being treated: SIBO/IBS-M - developed some sort of skin irritation on my face that I never had previously.
(22 comments on /r/FMTClincs).

21 Jul 2021. Microbioma.org WARNING. "Ivan Watson" alias of the person running it, has resorted to blatant lies in order to sell his product.
(12 comments on /r/FMTClinics).

27 Jul 2021. Microbioma.org WARNING! The person running it has successfully gotten reddit to take down the post exposing him for blatantly lying to his customers. I'm discussing the matter with the reddit admins, and will do so with the admins of the FMT facebook groups.
(33 comments on /r/FMTClinics).

03 Aug 2021. Microbioma.org has hired a lawyer to threaten me to take down the evidence exposing them for blatantly lying to his customers.
(46 comments on /r/FMTClinics).

18 Aug 2021. My gf is threatening to leave me after a fmt from here because she thinks it is unsafe and I am naive trusting scammers from the internet.
(5 comments on /r/Microbioma).

14 Dec 2021. More people keep using Microbioma.org and getting eczema. Absolutely mindboggling.
(10 comments on /r/FMTClinics).

23 Dec 2021. More people getting worse from Microbioma. Plus, the admin of the biggest FMT facebook group seems to have been bought out.
(12 comments on /r/FMTClinics).

18 Jan 2022. Another person getting worse from Microbioma.org.
(3 comments on /r/FMTClinics).

10 Feb 2022. "I used Microbioma FMT and I think it might have had a negative effect".
(no comments /r/FMTClinics).

16 Apr 2022. My Experience w/ 4 Different FMT Clinics (Some amazing some bad, Open-Biome, NewBerry, MG, Microbioma).
(3 comments on /r/FMTClinics).

25 Aug 2022. Review of Microbioma.org.
(2 comments on /r/Microbioma).

03 Jan 2023. The owner of Microbioma is giving customers free bottles/money in exchange for favorable comments about his donors or for luring in new customers.
(11 comments on /r/FMTClinics).

14 Jan 2023. I decided to remove my old post because the owner Ivan is lying to people.
(9 comments on /r/Microbiome).

22 May 2023. Microbioma continues their disinformation campaign in retaliation for exposing them. And it's being propped up by what looks like a mix of astroturfing and people uncritically upvoting random accusations they read. It may have severe consequences. Is it time to go to the police?
(no comments /r/Microbioma), (13 comments /r/Microbiome).

29 Aug 2023. Today I received a letter from Microbioma that he will most likely sue me.
(10 comments on /r/HumanMicrobiome).
 
FMT Clinics
  1. I included all required info
19 Feb 2019. Microbioma.org is a worldwide project to acquire high quality FMT donors, and connect them with recipients.

Started off as a local site in Spain, but the english translation is complete and can now be used worldwide.

I tried doing a reddit AMA to bring attention to it but it got removed. I'm not sure where else it can be shared. I can try in 1 or 2 other reddit subs but it looks like having a degree holder in a related field who is willing to come onboard and participate would be vital. Many laypeople have never heard of this and seem to have poor initial reactions particularly when it's not a medical professional presenting the information. When one person throws out a seemingly plausible accusation, regardless of its accuracy, others start bandwagoning. Seems like strict moderation would be required by knowledgeable people to keep the discussion evidence based, or at the very least an acknowledgement in the OP that "these experts are here as well to provide fact checking".

It seems that any community-only project would be limited to the spread by word of mouth. For something like this to get big it would likely require the medical and research communities to take action.


The site works by people sharing it online and in person. Then when one person in an area finds a donor that gives access to a donor for everyone in that area. Right now the site is brand new and there aren't any donors yet. Anyone can participate - doctors, researchers, clinics, individuals. Volunteers and collaborators are welcome. We could use a volunteer who is good with websites/coding.

Here is an english flyer that can be spread online and handed out in person: https://i.imgur.com/y4zJ3L2.png [alt version].

Small version, 2x on A4.
Small version, 2x on US Letter.


Recommended places to find donors:

Universities and community colleges (targeting top athletes), youth athletic venues, professional and amateur athletic organizations including Olympic and dance, various fitness centers like rock climbing, etc..


I made a couple videos about microbioma.org and FMT to hopefully help find donors:
1:00 whiteboard video coming soon.


(Original - 13 comments).
 
07 Nov 2019. Finally got a good enough health-day to make this video covering microbioma.org and FMT. Hopefully it will help find donors.

Short version (2:41): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gk2146Th43E
Longer version (11:47): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iRbSw9CIgWw

Feel free to give feedback and suggestions for improvements. I can make edits and reupload it if necessary.

Someone suggested making a less personal version that doesn't show me/my room, which I agree with, but I'm not sure what else to put on the screen.

I think it's unlikely to be highly appealing to the targeted audiences. But it's the best I can do in my current condition. This was done on a rare good day for me.

The shorter version has a script that can be easily copied, and I encourage other people to do so, but try to present it in a more appealing way.



(Original - 25 comments).
 
23 Dec 2019. I shared the microbioma video and site with hundreds of college and professional athletes and got only 1 volunteer who didn't qualify. Many were even majoring in biology, microbiology, health science, pre-med, etc.. This is ridiculous.


The video (Fixed audio version) for those who haven't seen it (previous thread).

I never imagined it would be this hard to get people to donate/sell something they freely discard every day, which could be used to save someone's life. This is one of the most bizarre things I have ever experienced. I thought people would be thrilled to find out that something as worthless as their stool could be used to save someone's life. Doubly so that they could make money from it!

Results:

Perhaps a 2-5% response rate.

1. Reacted with a "blushing" or "embarrassed" emoji.
2. "sorry I will not be able to give a sample"
3. "I'm interested" - but didn't qualify or follow up after filling out the questionnaire.
4. "Is this real?" - I gave numerous references of all types, showing that it is absolutely real, but no response.
5. "Wow, we were just discussing this! I'll check out the site" - didn't fill out the questionnaire, and wouldn't say why.

4 T&F athletes, 1 basketball player. 2 female, 3 male.


Many of the hundreds of contacts I made were before the South Park episode. I didn't notice any impact from the episode on signups or responses.

The method I used is looking them up on linkedin, twitter, and instagram. Linkedin is ideal since it doesn't seem to restrict you sending invites/messages, and it's for business/work. Instagram has pretty harsh restrictions and blocked me (permanently?) from sending messages after about 20-30 over a few weeks. Twitter's rules aren't too clear but I've sent dozens of messages and tweets on there and haven't seen harsh restrictions yet.


I would also think that college students would be some of the most likely people to sign up, both due to needing money and due to the higher education factor (and I saw a study supporting this). However, people on craigslist seem to be much more likely to sign up, though they're almost all quite unhealthy.

All the knowledge in the world isn't of any use if we can't get healthy people to sign up to be donors.

Previously I thought it would take a major effort from doctors and researchers in the FMT field to reach out to people in the media and in person. And this experience certainly supports that. They need to get on TV, do interviews in print media, and contact sports teams directly and go meet with and talk to the athletes in person. People like this https://i.redd.it/af7hhteogms31.png are wasting what might be the most valuable resource on the planet.

A fairly large percentage of Track and Field athletes seem to go into the science & medicine fields. These seem like some of the most promising donor prospects, and university research teams should be going directly to their athletics departments to recruit them.

People shouldn't be having to resort to DIY, but I can't seem to get any of thousands of doctors and researchers in the US to do a clinical trial for IBS or CFS with a high quality donor, and no one seems to know how to get a clinical trial going. So we just sit around and waste away while there's a cure on the other side of a bullet proof glass window.

Most of the CFS (chronic fatigue syndrome) researchers seem to recognize that the gut microbiome is an important factor, yet none of them (in the US) seem interested in testing a potential cure, and instead are focused on mechanisms and diagnostics, which I've argued to them is unethical.

The IBS researchers... I have no idea what the deal is there.

I find it pretty bewildering that there is not a race to be the first to demonstrate a panacea. Particularly due to the drastic increases in chronic disease and general poor functioning we've been seeing in recent decades.

FMT is the primary tool I see for getting us out of this dystopia and preventing collapse.



EDIT: thanks for all the input. I'm going to redo the video with better audio and lighting, and also make an even shorter one with the whiteboard graphics. Please feel free to volunteer script ideas, or anything else.

Fixed audio version: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gk2146Th43E



(Original - 71 comments).
 
Last edited:
29 Dec 2019. Thoughts on this microbioma script for a whiteboard video? Also I fixed the audio of the previous video.

Fixed audio.

Script:
Setting: Hospital
Patient lying on bed.

Doctor says to friend of patient "he needs a donor".

Friend: "Hmm, donating an organ is a lot to ask. An organ is a lot to give up. I'm also an athlete, I very much need my organs. I'm sorry but I don't think I can do it".

Doctor: "Actually, you'll be happy to know that it's not an organ donation he needs. He needs a gut microbe donor, and if you're healthy enough you could save his life by donating something that has no value to you, that you discard daily."

Friend "Huh? I've never heard of this. Can you explain?"

Doctor: "In recent years we've been learning that the microbes that live in our gut play a major role in our health and development. A healthy person can transfer their gut microbes to a sick person, which in the case of C. difficile infections, where antibiotics have wiped out the beneficial microbes, allowing a pathogen to thrive, it has proven to be a life saving treatment. And if we can get high enough quality donors to sign up for clinical trials it is very likely that it could treat many chronic diseases. The easiest way to transfer these microbes is with stool. This is called a Fecal Microbiota Transplant (FMT)."

Friend: Wow, that's pretty incredible! I'm relieved to hear how easy it is for me to save his life!

Doc: Yes, this treatment is truly a groundbreaking discovery. And beyond saving your friend here, you could potentially save many more people, while also greatly contributing to medical research.

Friend: How would I do that?

Doc: You can visit microbioma.org and fill out the questionnaire to see if you qualify. If you do, they can connect you with doctors, researchers, and individuals who need FMT.

Friend: Great, I'll check it out!


Whiteboard videos:
https://www.fiverr.com/categories/video-animation/whiteboard-explainer-videos?page=1&page_size=48&offset=0&filter=rating&ref=animation_type:whiteboard_2d_black_white|gig_price_range:0,30

My choices:
$10 https://www.fiverr.com/khantahir12/create-a-amazing-colorful-whiteboard-animation
$55 https://www.fiverr.com/whiteboard_expo/create-eye-catching-for-your-and-business



(Original - 12 comments).
 
19 Jan 2020. Thoughts on these spokesperson videos? Hire one of these people to do the microbioma.org video instead of the impersonal whiteboard video?


https://www.fiverr.com/categories/video-animation/buy-spokesperson-video?source=gig_sub_category_link
Most are $80+ for 400 words.


Personally I think the black girl is the best, but also the most expensive. The $40 blonde girl is affordable but the least professional.



Originals: (24 comments /r/Microbioma), (6 comments /r/HumanMicrobiome).
 
30 Jan 2020. Crowd funding, advertisements, spokesperson video.


Crowd funding:
For now, this is for advertisements and the spokesperson video.

Around $1.2k was spent in Spain on facebook and instagram ads in order to find one high quality donor.

Since we'll be able to use the spokesperson video to advertise on Youtube, that will be another option. Feel free to give feedback on which options you think would be the most effective.


There are two main options: Patreon and Gofundme.

Gofundme shut down a previous microbioma.org campaign in Spain, and stole their money. So that seems to be out.

I created a Patreon account: patreon.com/MicrobiomaNA feel free to give feedback.



Spokesperson video:
For the spokesperson video, the $80 Asian guy seemed to be the favorite. https://forum.humanmicrobiome.info/threads/microbioma-org-full-history-and-review.96/post-188

Two options for scripts for him:

1. A new slightly comedic one I recently came up with:
Hello,

I'm with microbioma.org and we want your poop. No, we need your poop. Why do we need your poop? It's got microbes in it. Not just any microbes. Microbes that have been evolving alongside us for millions of years and passed down generationally. Microbes that play a fundamental role in human health and development. We want to transfer these microbes from healthy people to sick people. If you're healthy enough, and your microbes are good enough, it could likely cure them.

These host-native microbes have been going extinct from a variety of modern perturbations, such as antibiotics, junk diets, and lack of breastfeeding. It's gotten to the point where fewer than 0.1% of the population qualifies to be a high quality stool donor.

The medical procedure that transfers these microbes is call a Fecal Microbiota Transplant, or FMT.

Beyond curing people of chronic disease the drastic increases in chronic disease, there are other societal detriments of this microbial extinction. A society where the vast majority of people are poorly functioning due to poor health and development is a recipe for disaster. So if you qualify, we need you to sign up to save the human race.

Thanks.

I'll be here waiting. Let me know if you need guidance.


Not healthy enough yourself? Refer someone. If they qualify and start donating you'll get $100.

2. A slightly modified version of the older short one:
Hello!

At microbioma.org we are looking for people healthy enough to be stool donors! That's right, something you discard daily can be used to save lives and advance medical research! High-performing athletes are some of the only people who qualify though. It's an easy way to make some money and improve and save lives with very little effort!

The stool is for Fecal Microbiota Transplants, also known as FMT, or research. There's a short introductory video on microbioma.org, and lots more info at HumanMicrobiome.info.

If you want to go to the website right now and fill out the questionnaire to see if you qualify, feel free. If you want to learn more about the gut microbiome, FMT, and being a stool donor, stay tuned!



Recently a Harvard lab was able to collect marathon runner's stool and identify a performance-enhancing microbe. However, the gut microbiome is an extremely complex ecosystem and thus it will be decades before we're able to replace whole stool with synthetic versions.

The main issue is that since the gut microbiome impacts the entire body, donors have to be in exceptional health with little to no lifetime antimicrobial use. Due to a variety of modern perturbations, our host-native microbiomes have been going extinct. This is arguably a climate-change-level concern.

A number of research groups have gone directly to secluded tribes, such as the Hadza. But using them as stool donors isn't currently feasible. So we have to find people in modern society in peak physical and mental health, with unperturbed, disease resistant gut microbiomes. The microbioma.org project is trying to find the fewer than 1% of people who qualify and connect them with doctors, researchers, and people who need FMT.

Due to the difficulty of finding high quality donors, nearly all the clinical trials, doctors, stool banks, etc. are using low quality donors. Which is both dangerous and ineffective. Many patients are left to find their own donors, which is nearly impossible for most of them. Right now, microbioma.org is a completely volunteer-based organization. The only people getting paid are the stool donors.

If any coaches would be willing to bring this up with their athletes that would be greatly appreciated! And if you don't qualify but know someone who might, please pass this on to them! If they qualify and start donating you'll get $100.



In summary, young people in exceptional physical and mental health may have stool that can cure a huge variety of diseases, but we can only find out if we get them to sign up to be stool donors for clinical trials.

And if they're willing to donate stool for other things along the way that's great. Thanks!

3. Edited version from /u/SkatingChimp
We want your poop. No. We NEED your poop. Let me explain.

I'm from Microbioma.org and your poop could change someone's life.

Recent research has shown that the microbiome, the microbes that live in our gut and help us to digest food, play a major role in our overall health. And modifying and restoring our gut microbiome has become a major investigative avenue for treating numerous illnesses.

Half of the mass of our stool is microbes. A procedure called fecal microbiota transplants, or FMT for short, involves transferring these microbes from a healthy donor to a sick person. Through this process, FMTs offer a potential new treatment option for a long list of conditions, many of which may surprise you, including Irritable Bowel Syndrome, obesity, and even mental disorders.

Jane Dudley surprised doctors when she successfully cured her bipolar disorder after receiving an FMT.

(Include video clips of woman that cured bipolar disorder here)

Truly an amazing story.

But here's the problem. There is a severe lack of high quality donors right now. Most people who apply to be a donor fail to qualify. Its extremely difficult to get just one high quality donor, and yet the stool from that one donor can change the lives of so many suffering people. That's what Microbioma.org is all about. If you think you're healthy enough to be one of our donors we want your help! Know someone else who might fit the bill? Refer them and earn a $100 commission.

Give a poop. Change a life.


(Original - 20 comments).
 
16 Aug 2020. Looking to leave microbioma.org and start a separate FMT project in the US.

I'm letting people know in case anyone is interested in getting involved.

I've been working with microbioma.org for almost 2 years. The owner of it is based in Spain and he was giving me almost free reign to run the North American portion independently. But things are changing, and to maintain my independence I'll have to start up a new US-based project.

My qualifications and expertise are around knowledge on human health and development, the gut microbiome's influence on the whole body, and FMT. I believe I'm one of the most knowledgeable and qualified people in the world to be assessing FMT donor quality and working in the FMT field. I think this is demonstrated by my body of work linked to in my Linkedin profile.

My deficits are: ability to create a full, high quality website, funding, lack of university degree, marketing expertise, and poor health physically limiting me.

My strengths are: knowledge (health, microbiome, FMT), intelligence, integrity, motivation, competence.

I plan to use my own money to run ads on youtube, craigslist, reddit, etc.. I wanted to run ads in local university newspapers but California universities are closed till next year.

The primary initial costs would be setting up the website (graphic design, logo, questionnaire), hiring a spokesperson to perform a video script ($80-$150), and possibly more money into marketing/advertising. Stool & blood testing costs about $1000 per donor. I was having recipients split that cost. But I expect to later on start to pay for the full testing myself/ourselves and then factor that cost into what recipients are charged.

There are many possibilities for how someone may get involved. It's really up to you, your expertise, and your vision. I'm open to hearing many proposals. With microbioma-NA I was pretty much handling everything except the website.

Even though money isn't my main goal, the percentage of the population who are unhealthy and thus who would benefit from FMT from a high quality donor is arguably more than 99% (everyone who doesn't qualify to be a high quality donor) in the US, thus, there is a huge potential market. I'm not adverse to making money, but I do not want to raise prices to points that are unaffordable for most people, such as what various stool banks and worldwide clinics have done. Affordability is going to be a primary goal in order to reach as many people as possible.


Proposed mission:
Our mission, and why you should sign up to be a donor:

Chronic disease and general poor health have been drastically increasing over the past decades to the point where the vast majority of the population is now extremely unhealthy. This goes way beyond a single generation being a little overweight due to eating too much. This is an exponentially worsening crisis with each generation, in large part due to the loss of our host-native microbes that get passed down generationally [1-5].

This not only leads to a large amount of suffering and death for adults and children, but it also has drastic societal detriments when in a democracy the vast majority of people are poorly functioning.

The recent microbiome research discoveries have given hope of addressing these major problems [6-8]. But in order to do so, we need the tiny 0.1% of people who are still healthy enough to qualify as a high quality stool donor to sign up and start donating their stool.

While many other operations have a primary financial motivation, our motivation is fixing people and fixing society. We aim to find the fewer than 0.1% of people who qualify, and connect them with doctors, researchers, hospitals, clinical trials, and individuals.You can choose if you want to make daily donations, or if you are too busy to wait only for a large clinical trial.

Will you be a part of the solution?

1. https://web.archive.org/web/20190423130243/https://www.mdedge.com/ccjm/article/189671/infectious-diseases/our-missing-microbes-short-term-antibiotic-courses-have-long
2. https://www.who.int/nutrition/topics/2_background/en/
3. https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2010/11/the-rise-of-chronic-disease/
4. https://www.ncsl.org/print/health/DHoffmanFF08.pdf
5. https://www.cdc.gov/chronicdisease/resources/infographic/chronic-diseases.htm
6. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fmicb.2018.01510/full
7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4895930/
8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4284325/

EDIT: More on prevalence, consequences, and solutions to chronic disease, and microbiome extinctions.

EDIT 2: I just thought of one issue with taking on other people. FMT regulation and standards seem to be in kind of a grey zone. I'm willing to take on that risk for myself, but I'm concerned both for other people's legal burdens, as well as their burdens hindering my actions. So this is something I will contemplate.



(23 comments on /r/HumanMicrobiome).
 
18 Aug 2021. My gf is threatening to leave me after a fmt from here because she thinks it is unsafe and I am naive trusting scammers from the internet.

She says that there is no proof that you actually did the tests on the poop and the blood tests could be old and now she could have HIV

The website does not look that serious and there are no doctors or reviews from users on an independent platform. She says it could all be a fake.

How do I even know that the poop was tested for HIV or the donor didn't have unprotected sexual contact to other people before donating


(5 comments on /r/Microbioma).
 
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