THE family of a 'loving and caring' Furness woman in need of life-changing surgery have started a fundraiser to pay for her operation.

Vikki Black, 23, suffers from Fowlers syndrome: a rare condition that affects mainly young women.

The condition affects the nervous system and causes either partial or complete retention of the bladder, meaning Vikki needs to use a catheter.

Vikki's sister Kayla Shepherd, from Ulverston, has set up a fundraising page on GoFundMe.

The funds raised will help pay for a vital operation, which will see a pace maker fitted, replacing the need for the catheter.

Vikki's mum Patsy Black said: "This illness causes Vikki a lot of pain. I just want her to feel better. She gets very down about it.

"She tries to keep going, and her sister takes her out. But the catheter sometimes leaks and she has to try and hide it.

"For a 23 year old girl it's horrible. She feels like life is testing her. She has virtually lost eight years of her life with all of her illnesses.

"We did the trial operation, which caused her a lot of pain, but it worked. It doesn't always work for everybody, so she has decided she wants to go ahead with it."

Vikki has suffered from a number of conditions since she was 15, including ME and hypermobility. These sometimes mean she has to stay in bed tired, and cause her a lot of pain.

Although the operation would not solve all of these, the removal of the catheter would greatly improve her quality of life.

She has been waiting for the operation for over two years, and her family decided to see how much it would cost to get it done privately, as hospitals said it could be done within two weeks.

The target for the fundraiser matches the cost of the operation, which would be £13,000.

Mrs Black added: "Vikki is trying to stay positive. She is really looking forward to having the operation.

"I just want her to be able to live like any other 23 year old. She just wants her dream job and to be able to do things.

"Vikki is so loving and caring. She keeps things to herself because she doesn't want us to worry.

"Her sisters and her friends are helping her and any ideas for fundraising would be appreciated. They all feel that the way she has coped with this is inspirational."

Vikki is currently in hospital in Manchester receiving treatment for her illnesses.

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