Student's colostomy bag selfie on Facebook goes viral in its aim to help Crohn's and colitis sufferers

Director of charity says around 10,000 young people are diagnosed with inflammatory bowel disease each year

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Indy Lifestyle Online

A law student who had his selfie posted on Facebook has become an Internet sensation – and for all the right reasons.

20-year-old Luke Bennett took a picture of himself at home, proudly showing-off the colostomy bag he was fitted with just five weeks previously in the hope that other sufferers can take some comfort from his story.

Shared online by the nationwide charity Crohn’s and Colitis UK, the picture has gained praise from across the world, having been viewed close to three million times and shared by over 10,000 users.

In the post, Luke tells how, at the age of 16, he was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, which sees the sufferer’s large intestine become inflamed. Soon after, his symptoms worsened while on holiday in Cyprus and he had to be hospitalised for most of his time there.

"Hi, Im Luke, I am 20 years old and was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis at 16. At the start I didn't know much about...

Posted by Crohn's and Colitis UK on Wednesday, 12 August 2015

After his body rejected the medication given to him by doctors, the Swansea University student said he was forced to make the brave decision to have elective surgery to have his large bowel removed.

In the post, Luke says: “The thought of having a ‘bag’ is terrifying as most of the young people you see around you are confident with their bodies and it’s the time in a person’s life when they should be enjoying life without any worries.”

Acknowledging how “life isn’t always kind to us,” Luke says it was either live with a stoma bag – or continue with the illness to the point of emergency surgery.

Settling in now after the procedure, Luke describes how he hopes others with either Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, can look at him and feel at ease with themselves.

He says he wants his story to help others to not feel frightened if surgery is ever offered, or if it is the only option.

“It has definitely changed my life,” he adds.

Ultimately, Luke says he’s learned that living with a ‘bag’ isn’t as terrifying as he had anticipated: “It’s just another part of me which I have to learn to embrace.”

Director of marketing at Crohn’s and Colitis UK, Dan McClean, described Luke as being an inspiration and highlighted how around 10,000 young people are being diagnosed with the inflammatory bowel disease each year.

He added: “To see Luke’s story is very inspiring for a lot of people.”