Teenager's posts show stoma bag 'not end of the world'
A 16-year-old started posting on social media about life with a stoma bag to show "it's not the end of the world".
Oliver Kaye, from Watford, was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis in January and had his colon removed last month.
"There are not many people my age who speak out about this and a lot of people judge others," he said.
"So if someone is going through this I wanted to give them the confidence that it's not the end of the world."
A stoma is an opening on the abdomen which connects to the digestive or urinary system and allows waste to be diverted out of the body and into a bag.
Oliver was initially given medication to treat the inflammatory bowel disease but after he fell more seriously ill, he underwent surgery at St Mark's Hospital in London five weeks ago.
"There is quite a lot of stigma around stoma bags so I want to reassure others going through it," he said.
Oliver said when he found out he would have to undergo surgery, he "was pretty scared as it was the last resort".
But when he looked online for other people who had been through a similar procedure, he "was reassured they were doing well and living life".
That inspired to him to post about his own experiences.
Oliver posts on Instagram and Facebook as "thekidwithabag" and has gained about 2,000 followers in under a month, with a video explaining his condition viewed more than 6,000 times.
He said the reaction to his posts was "amazing".
"So many people have been giving me messages of support and hopefully it'll inspire more people," he said.
"Whatever happens in life, just face it."
Oliver's mum Tracy said: "It's horrible to see your son so poorly."
She said because of the pandemic the surgery had been delayed and the family "had to fight for everything" so Oliver could go into hospital.
However, she said since then it had made a big difference to his life.
"Now he's coming out with us. He walked for 15 minutes to a cafe for lunch. He would have never have done that six weeks ago."
Sophie Bassil, from charity Crohn's & Colitis UK, said: "We fully support Oliver and everything he is doing to raise awareness of Crohn's disease, colitis and stomas.
"Having a stoma is a big change but inspirational people like Oliver show every day that there are many positives to be found.
"It takes guts to talk about stomas and we're proud of every one of our supporters who share their stories."