The family of a teenage girl with a rare and debilitating condition has thanked her selfless gymnastics club for quickly raising thousands of pounds to fund a life-changing operation.

Frankie Box, 15, has spent a gruelling two years in and out of hospital and has been using a feeding tube since August.

Problems started when the Dartford teenager began collapsing but doctors struggled to understand why.

"To be honest it’s been heartbreaking," dad Darren told News Shopper.

"She has missed two years of education. She has missed socialising and her friends are at the age where they are going out to parties and going out to eat.

"It’s been really hard for her and it’s amazing how resilient and cheerful she’s been."

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Doctors initially thought it was anorexia but in August she was diagnosed with gastroparesis.

The rare condition, which can be brought on at any time, essentially paralyses the stomach and prevents it working.

Despite the incurable diagnosis, Frankie, of Lingfield Avenue, has defied the pain by continuing her impressive gymnastic career whenever she can.

The debilitating condition has not stopped the Team Gym British bronze medalist from attending every training session possible and from coaching kids at Elements Gymnastics in Dartford.

"She literally straps or tapes her feeding tube to the side of her head and gets on with," Darren said.

"It’s very hard for her going out with the tube and bag. People stare and being 15 she’s always been into fashion and appearance.

"I am massively proud of her and always have been."

One of the hardest days for Frankie was when she was stuck in hospital while the kids she teaches had their first competition.

When Elements Gymnastics heard that a life-changing operation was available to Frankie, they set up a JustGiving page.

Within four weeks over 200 people donated £17,000 - with one anonymous contributor giving £5,000.

The operation will install a gastric pacemaker into Frankie’s stomach which will allow food to reach her bowel.

"Without this she would be on a feeding tube for the rest of her life," dad Darren said.

The operation, which costs between £17,000 and £34,000, is not free on the NHS unless you live in Wales, Scotland or Ireland.

Darren said Elements Gymnastics have done wonders for his daughter.

"They are such a lovely lovely club who have really got behind Frankie. They have been amazing."

The club described Frankie as being part of its family.

They said that what Frankie has achieved with her condition has been "awe-inspiring" and that when she is fully fit she will be "phenomenal".

Frankie is now next in line for the operation and the family hopes it will all be over within four to six weeks.

Her dad said that any money left from the fundraiser will be donated to another family struggling to pay for the operation.

He added: "This has been terribly sad. Sometimes she fainted just through the pain.

"She has had two years of not being a normal kid.

"All she wants is to be a normal kid again."