About IA

Ileostomy and Internal Pouch Association, known as IA, has been specialising in supporting people living with an ileostomy since 1956.

IA is a network of local groups offering local support to its membership, their families and carers, from coffee mornings and trips to information days and talks. In addition to IA’s flagship visiting service, where we endeavour to match patient to visitor in terms of age, gender, surgery and lifestyle preferences, IA offers a range of other services such as literature, a quarterly magazine, financial support to its membership, educational events and a voice to represent the patient living with an ileostomy or internal pouch.

What makes IA unique is not only its extensive network of local groups across the UK and Ireland but also the majority of our volunteers are themselves living life after surgery. Not only do our volunteers offer support but they can offer the lived experience – something tremendously valuable to our members and those considering surgery when faced with such a difficult decision to make.

In an honorary position, IA is honoured to have a prestigious surgeon undertake the role of National President since Bryan Brooke took on the founding President role in 1956. IA’s current National President is Professor Gordon L. Carlson, IA National President CBE BSc (Hons), MB ChB (Hons), MD, FRCS, FRCS(Gen), FRCSEd (Ad Hom).

Back in 1956, recognising the need to provide peer support to people living with an ileostomy, surgeon Bryan Brooke identified that people undergoing ileostomy surgery could benefit from talking to others who had been through a similar experience.

At the time, there were no ostomy support groups in the UK and Bryan’s development of the Brooke ileostomy, which has since improved the quality of lives for hundreds of thousands of people, was still in its infancy. It was very much a subject not discussed, with people feeling alone, isolated and uncertain of their future.

Following an agreed introduction between patients to discuss life with an ileostomy, the foundations of IA’s visiting service were formed and on 14 April 1956, at the QE Hospital, Birmingham, the founding members asked Professor Bryan Brooke to become IA’s founder President. On that day the first UK stoma support group, known as QT, was formed, which would later become Ileostomy Association. IA will forever remain thankful for their foresight over 60 years ago to recognise the benefit that peer support would bring. Support from people who have been through a similar experience has been at the heart of IA’s visiting service ever since.

With its foundational roots in the Midlands, IA branched out in to regional groups around England initially before extending its support network across Scotland, Wales and Ireland. In 1993, following the development of pouch surgery by Parks and Nicholls, IA extended its support network to include people living with an internal pouch. A pouch offered a continent alternative to suitable people who didn’t want to live with an ileostomy.

As part of our 60th anniversary, IA published a book about the beginnings of its rich history. You can read a copy of the early letters between Bryan and Doreen (founding member) and how IA came to be.

IA Aims To…

As a charity supporting people who have been through, or are about to go through, life changing surgery we understand first hand the concerns and difficulties that many face. Helping a person through surgery is not just about physical recovery but about helping them to develop their confidence to return to the things in life that they enjoy – things that illness may often have deprived them of.

IA aims to help anyone who has had, or is about to have, an ileostomy or internal pouch return to a fully active and normal life as soon as possible.

IA aims to help with all aspects of a person's rehabilitation including social activities, relationships, returning to work or education, building confidence and developing a support network.

IA aims to work in close co-operation with the medical authorities as part of a team whose primary aim is the complete rehabilitation of every ileostomy or pouch patient.

IA aims to promote and co-ordinate research, not only into ways of improving the quality of life with an ileostomy or pouch, but also into the illnesses which lead to these operations.

IA aims to improve knowledge about the management of ileostomies or pouches and encourage development of new ostomy equipment and skin care preparations.