A FORMER Cirencester College student is in a race against time to raise the money she needs for life-changing surgery.

Nine years ago, Carys Hellewell was just an ordinary schoolgirl, who enjoyed art and sports and was interested in international development.

But following surgery for an appendicitis her health began to decline. She started losing weight and eating became a major issue.

Carys, 25, who grew up in Stroud and now lives in Nympsfield began a course in global development and sustainability at Bath Spa University and dreamt of a career in humanitarian development. But the condition became so severe that she had to put her entire life on hold.

After several misdiagnoses, she was eventually diagnosed with ‘vascular compressions’. This is an incredibly rare condition with only 500 documented cases worldwide.

Carys said: “Currently basic daily activities are a struggle. I start each day using a Peristeen irrigation system to enable me to go to the toilet – this process can take up to an hour and is exhausting.

“Some days I am unable to get out of bed due to excruciating pain and chronic sickness. I can eat only a very small amount of food and some days I cannot eat anything and must rely entirely on my feed.

“I struggle to get enough fluid due to sickness and must rely on flushes of water through my tube to avoid dehydration. I find the smallest of tasks are becoming increasingly difficult as my condition worsens, and I am constantly exhausted.”

“If I don’t have this surgery urgently I will continue to deteriorate and my condition will become life-threatening due to the detrimental impact on my organs and my heart.”

Carys said there is pioneering surgery that will cure the condition, but it is only available in Germany and not funded by the NHS.

Carys has surgery provisionally scheduled for September 26 in Dusseldorf, but she needs £35,000 to cover the cost of the operation, consultations, scans, tests and travelling. “I need to raise this money as soon as I can before my condition deteriorates even more,” she said. “The surgery could mean I no longer require a feeding tube, I’ll be able to go to the toilet without intervention, and not live a life in pain.”

Carys has set up a fundraising page and is appealing for donations. So far, around £15,000 in total has been raised. If you can help with a donation visit: justgiving.com/crowdfunding/carys-hellewell

She said doctors at Mettmann Hospital in Dusseldorf want to operate on three or four of her vascular compressions and the surgeon “is very confident that he will be able to fix them”.

“He has fixed a date for surgery on September 26 which does not give me much time so all the help I can get is very much appreciated,” she said.

“If I don’t raise the money in time I will have to postpone the operation, but I have limited time in which I can have the operation as the surgeon is retiring and because of my health declining.

“If I am unable to have the operation, I will donate the money to the National MALS Foundation, a charity dedicated to supporting those with MALS (Median Arcuate Ligament Syndrome) compressions, which is one of my compressions.”

The Standard asked the NHS for a comment explaining why the surgery Carys needs is not funded and available to her in the UK, but we did not receive a response before our deadline.