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An amazing 1.2. million people in the UK wear an Ostomy bag!

June 2011 

WHAT IS AN OSTOMY? An ostomy is the operation to create a STOMA (an opening) that removes waste products from the body into a collecting Bag (known as an ostomy bag or pouch).

WHAT CAUSES AN OSTOMY? Ostomies are created by the removal of the bladder or bowel because of:

Bowel, Colon or rectal Cancers;, Inflamatory Bowel Diseases (IBD) - Crohn’s Disease or Colitis; Congenital Abnormalities (e.g Spina Bifida, Hirschprung’s Disease etc.); Polyps in the gastrointestinal tract; Trauma, to the abdomen through Accident or Injury; Diverticular Disease; Paralysed patients to remove the threat of bed sores and infection; Other rare diseases that cause damage to the Bowel, bladder or intestine.

An ostomy is a life-changing condition: A bowel or bladder cannot be reconstructed, instead an uncomfortable, “bag for life” hangs from the abdomen by adhesive, that needs emptying regularly and changing daily. This may be an unpleasant subject, but for the 1.2 million in the UK, a stoma is a way of life. It is a condition of which we were blithely unaware until it happened to me. I went for a simple colonoscopy and woke in ICU with a bag attached to my side. – I am one of the 65% of all Crohn’s patients who need an ostomy. My bowel had been on the point of rupture and the operation saved my life. However, this came as a terrific shock.

We knew nothing about ostomies, my husband and I scoured the internet and every other resource in search of information which we found to be fragmented, written by ostomy appliance manufacturers or medical professionals and relatively little by ostomates and carers who lived the experience

As we both had a long history of journalism behind us, my husband and I embarked on four years of intensive research, reading medical, university, pharmaceutical papers and journals and speaking to gastroenterologists, urologists colorectal nurses and of course thousands of ostomates worldwide. Everything we found that ostomates need to know is now in our book:


is available on  and our own website:


Unwanted Baggage Book Cover

It is as a 440 page resource guide to the ostomy world. From the latest in applicable benefits and grants, to travel essentials in the UK and overseas (medical passports/customs controls etc.). From such things as intimacy and relationships to deaing with paediatric ostomates, essential workplace and school’s legal obligations, specialised clothing, coping with emotions and body image.

Every imaginable topic is covered, including a special carer’s section and over 300 website links to manufacturers, Ostomy Associations and forums. Not content with the book, we decided to constantly update the book on a website:

The Gastronauts Ostomate Puppetswith a special section devoted to child ostomates, of which there are 300,000 (from newborn to teenagers) in the UK. We began with a simple video:The “Gastronauts” Ostomate Puppets (who wear a bag). We offer free certificates of “bravery under surgery” to all child ostomates. We produce a free e-newsletter updating the latest medical & social information. Both the book and website also contain invaluable information for Carers and anyone with a chronic illness or disability.

Our motives are to help ostomates, thus, donations of profits from sales on the Website’s shop (includes the ostomy puppets) by purchaser’s choice, will be made to the UK’s main Ostomy Associations:

The Colostomy Association,
IASupport (Ileostomy and internal Pouch)
Urostomy Association
Crohn’s and Colitis UK
All of whom make valuable contributions to ostomical research and help with welfare grants to ostomates in need.

We ask all readers of LATERLIFE
to click on the website and its facebook link and
Help spread the word among ostomates worldwide.

Donations to the Associations are also possible through the website.

Elizabeth & Philip Prosser

The website:  The Book: Unwanted Baggage

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