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This issue with my dad has been a year and a half in the making. He went into the hospital to have a knee replacement a year and a half ago. Six surgeries later… infection for well over a year and a half now. When he finally came home, he developed [Clostridium difficile], and as a result of that he lost a lot of weight: thirty-some-odd pounds.

My brothers, myself, my children, my husband: we were all responsible for having to take care of him. And with the C. diff, it completely grounded him to his home. He couldn’t go out. He was stuck at home. So it was debilitating. It further debilitated him more than what he already was.

At this point, I mean, the choices were that we continue going down this road and could eventually result in maybe loss of life for him. At the time I didn’t have very much information about what trials were and how they worked. And Dr. Kao explained everything. She put it in terms that not only myself and my family understood, but terms that my dad understood. She’d mentioned it was a trial procedure. So we got in to see Dr. Kao relatively quickly based on the severity of his C. diff, and she approved him right away for the fecal transplant process.

“At the time he was under the care of an infectious disease specialist,” says Dr. Dina Kao. “And so that’s when he got referred to me and we sort of started looking into whether fecal transplant could be a good option for him. And so we had a very long discussion, and we sort of discussed about some of the potential long-term implications and so on. And we went ahead with it and, not surprisingly, after the first treatment it didn’t really work. And we had to go back on the antibiotic. And then we had to go into a second treatment, and then, very interestingly, after the second treatment he started to get better.”

Just the difference was immediate. Just seeing him bounce back and have some energy and able to do things and able to go over and spend time with his grandchildren and do things and watch them do their activities. From having been shut into his house, it was just… I mean, there’s no words to explain how important that was to him.

I think that there’s a very important place for trial research within our medical field. It’s part of what everybody should be involved in, and not just specifically with relation to fecal transplant, but all research that’s out there. Because it could be one of your loved ones that could be sick and need one of these new ways of doing new medical research or new medical ways of handling things. And if we don’t have people out there that are willing to participate, then we’re not going to find these new ways of helping.

What is health research doing?

Research is changing the way health care services are provided every day. Here are just a few examples of discoveries made right here in Edmonton.

1989

Canada’s first islet transplant is carried out by the Islet Transplant group at the University of Alberta in the quest to find better diabetes treatments.

1999

Dr. Shapiro from the University of Alberta works with the Islet Transplantation Group to develop The Edmonton Protocol, reducing dependence on insulin in type 1 diabetics.

2001

Researchers created a new technique so people with severe Type 1 diabetes could stop taking insulin for a short time, making treatment safer and more convenient for patients.

2006

A trans-cranial Doppler device shows doctors if an intravenous stroke treatment is working. Ultrasound waves determine if arteries are open and how blood is flowing.

2006

The Zeidler Gastrointestinal Health Centre opens – Canada’s first clinical facility dedicated to gastroenterology.

2008

Researchers found a new way to treat E. coli by preventing the bacterium from reaching the kidneys.

2009

A researcher finds a biomarker in prostate cancer patients that tells doctors if the cancer will come back or spread. This way they can treat patients earlier and more aggressively.

2012

Inspired by a complex suture pattern, one Edmonton doctor develops a wound-clamping device to stop hemorrhaging, one of the leading causes of preventable death.

2013

Alberta researchers learned that a hepatitis C viral strain can treat all known strains of the virus.

2014

Researchers at the Cross Cancer Institute find that combining two existing drugs doubles the life expectancy of patients with multiple myeloma.

2014

A non-invasive, electrode-based cardiac system gives real-time access to heart data without the use of a catheter. This reduces patient discomfort and lowers the time spent gathering cardiac readings from hours to just minutes.

2015

A surgical robot joins the staff at the Lois Hole Hospital for Women to help patients with uterine and cervical cancer. Surgeries now result in less pain, less bleeding, and faster recovery.

2015

Alberta-run ESCAPE Trial results in a groundbreaking stroke treatment procedure, reducing the number of deaths by 50%.

Today

Research is helping advance knowledge, improve our world, and shape the future.

What is health research?

Health research finds answers to our health questions and shows us new ways to prevent illness, detect diseases, and test new treatments. Right now there are thousands of active clinical studies happening in Alberta. That’s a lot of opportunities to get involved in your health care, and we can only get results with your help.