A SOUTHAMPTON woman who has been unable to eat food for seven years is fundraising for life-changing surgery.

Lauren Blake, 22, an NHS 111 call handler, was diagnosed with Gastroparesis aged 15 and her life has not been the same since.

The chronic condition prevents Lauren's stomach from digesting food and drink properly, and this can lead to vomiting multiple times a day.

Daily Echo: Southampton woman Lauren Blake, who has Gastroparesis, is fundraising for a gastric pacemaker Southampton woman Lauren Blake, who has Gastroparesis, is fundraising for a gastric pacemaker

She is now on a mission to fundraise for a gastric pacemaker which would "completely change everything".

Lauren said: "Gastroparesis has taken away the social side of my life. It all started when I was 15 and it hasn't been easy, it took a while for me to be diagnosed.

"I have really severe symptoms which means that I vomit multiple times a day.

"Anything I eat will remain in my stomach, but does not get absorbed, and food can sit in my stomach for more than twelve hours.

"On bad days I cannot even keep down water to stay hydrated.

"I heard about a gastric pacemaker. I recently visited a specialist doctor in Leeds to find out more and I qualify for the surgery, but the sheer amount of money it costs means I have a lot of fundraising to do. It used to be funded by the NHS, but it is no longer funded.

"The cost is varied, but it's usually around £18,000. I have already started my fundraising and I climbed Mount Snowden last year.

Daily Echo: Lauren BlakeLauren Blake

"I'm hoping to do lots of different fundraisers this year, but some do depend on Covid. My girlfriend and I are planning another long walk to do for the end of the year."

A gastric pacemaker is considered the best option once all other treatments have been tried, and it can even remove the need for a feeding tube.

Daily Echo:

The pacemaker could drastically change Lauren's life.

She said: "It's been nearly seven years since I was able to keep a meal down. It has been difficult.

"I'm always worrying about where the nearest bathroom is or if I'm at work and my colleagues are eating their lunch and question why I'm not eating anything.

Daily Echo:

"Raising £18,000 would be life-changing. It would give me my life back and change absolutely everything for me."

To donate to Lauren's ongoing fundraiser, visit www.gofundme.com/f/laurens-gastric-pacemaker or search 'Lauren’s Fundraiser for Gastric Pacemaker' on Facebook to keep up-to-date with her fundraising efforts.