Not that I have any plans to choose the hospital as a destination vacation spot, but if I did, I would be four times as likely to have a recurrence of a clostridium difficile infection (c. diff).
That’s assuming that I get it while in the hospital, as that is where it most often occurs. So, why am I more likely? Because I don’t have an appendix.
Researchers found that patients without an appendix were more likely to develop a recurrence 48% of the time vs 11% for those with an appendix. This underlines once again, how we underestimated its value.
For years, surgeons have not given a second thought to removing a healthy appendix, deeming it useless. It happened to me. During my first surgery for endometriosis, they took my perfectly healthy appendix. Did I consent to this?
No – I just did not read the fine print on the medical release form. It said I was giving them permission to remove anything they deemed “necessary” and unfortunately for me, that meant my appendix was toast.
Was this reckless on their part. Yes, but ignorance is not an excuse. It should’ve been logical that since the appendix was there, it must have a purpose. Nature seldom makes mistakes.
So, it makes me even more angry, many years later, when I read what researchers have now learned, especially knowing what I know about the benefits of gut health.
According to Lorne G. Martin, professor at Oklahoma State, this is what the appendix does:
- It’s involved primarily with immune system function
- Assists with the maturation of B lymphocytes (a type of white blood cell) and the production of immunoglobulin A (IgA) antibodies.”
- Helps produce molecules that can direct the lymphocytes to various locations in the body
- Suppresses potentially negative humoral antibody response, seen with allergy and autoimmune conditions.
- And interestingly, its tissue can be used as a back-up for reconstructive surgery for organs such as the bladder.
- But the biggest and most important function: Good bacteria acts as a storage facility, allowing good bacteria to reproduce and be available to re-populate the colon if needed. This might occur, for example, in the case of diarrhea where too much beneficial bacteria are flushed out during an infection.
This may explain why someone without an appendix has issues getting rid of C. Diff. and preventing it from recurring.
More importantly, it stresses that we should never assume medical professionals know all there is to know. Let’s face it, they can’t know what has not been discovered.
I am glad I understand how to protect my gut health, since I have no appendix. And if you are in the same position, learn what you can to protect yourself.
And if you find yourself, in the hospital about to have surgery, read the fine print on the medical release form. Don’t be afraid to speak up. Fight for your appendix.
The Appendix May Protect Against Clostridium Difficile Recurrence, Gene Y. Im et al, Clinical December 2011, Volume 9, Issue 12, Pages 1072–1077, Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology