At 19 years old, Cameron Bowles may have learned one of the greatest lessons of parenthood.
"I"ll be the first to tell you I am impatient with everything," said Bowles. "But this has made me more patient to deal with a delicate situation and help others around me when they need it."
He said helping his 8-month-old daughter Elena, born with a rare birth defect called vacterl, has been both challenging and life-changing.
"You have to mature up fast," he said. "No time to hold back."
Elena was born without an anus at Lexington Medical Center. When doctors there did all they could for the newborn, her mother, Alexis took her home to Memphis for treatment.
Bowles said two weeks ago, doctors from Le Bonheur Children's Hospital performed one of many surgeries Elena will need.
"The surgery she just had created her buttocks," he said. "She's doing wonderful."
After she recovers, Bowles said Elena will have another surgery. He's anxious to pay the mounting medical bills. He works two jobs while attending school at Midlands Tech.
"I don't like to owe people money," said Bowles. "I like to have it all clear and free. Especially medical. You know they used money to save her life and now they need that money to save someone else's. We'd like to pay them soon and we will, whether it's on our own or people helping us out."
The couple is working with charities to help with medical expenses and raise money for Le Bonheur. It's another life lesson Bowles has learned, compassion and paying it forward.
"You never really know what someone has going on behind closed doors," he said. "Underneath their skin."
Elena will return to Lexington in a few weeks. After a few months of rehabilitation, the parents will plan for her next surgery.
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