BEFORE he was diagnosed with Crohn's disease, Kris Gourlay says his mother used to be stopped in the street by people worried what was wrong with him.

"People were stopping my Mum in the street and asking if I was okay, because I looked awful.

"I'd lost loads of weight - I was only about seven stone. I was chalk white, no energy, no appetite. Anything I was eating wasn't staying in my system."

Kris, originally from the Borders, was in his first year of university at Edinburgh Napier when he began experiencing symptoms he initially thought might be food poisoning.

"Other flatmates of mine at the time were also ill, so we thought nothing of it," says Kris, now 22.

"I was a typical boy who refused to go to the doctor, but in the summer of 2017 I became really ill."

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Although Kris did not experience the hallmark Crohn's symptom of excruciating abdominal pain, he did experience extreme fatigue.

"The whole of summer 2017, I lay in bed basically. My Mum would come and force me to eat stuff or go outside for an hour just to get some sunlight.

"There were about 10 trips to the toilet every day, which was pretty horrible.

"At times I was on a liquid diet - these terrible milkshakes they give you that are meant to give you all the vitamins and nutrients that you need.

"And of course your mental health starts to suffer because you're not seeing anyone."

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Eventually, Kris was admitted to hospital for two weeks.

"Various tests were done but when I was told it was Crohn's disease, I had no idea what that even was. I remember asking the doctor 'is that bad?'

"It's only now that I realise the number of people it affects and the scale of the damage."

The disease - which is most often diagnosed in people aged 18 to 29 - is associated with an increased risk of intestinal cancers and, in severe cases, some patients have their bowel removed.

Following his diagnosis, Kris was tried on various drugs - including one that he had an allergic reaction to - before being placed on Infliximab.

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Over a period of two years, the journalism student would travel to Borders General Hospital in Galashiels every eight weeks to be given an intravenous infusion of the drug for two hours.

By the time the coronavirus pandemic hit Scotland in 2020, his symptoms were in remission and he is currently drug-free, although he has to limit alcohol, dairy, and spicy foods.

Most Crohn's patients will fluctuate between periods of remission and flare-ups.

Kris is now participating in one of Edinburgh University's Crohn's clinical trials.

"Everybody just wants to find a cure for this disease."