(WMC-TV) – Parenthood was not in the plan for two Mississippi State freshmen, but with a baby on the way they moved to South Carolina to start a family. Their baby, born with a rare medical condition, would bring them back to Le Bonheur Children's Hospital.
Eight-month-old Elena Bowles looks like any happy, healthy baby.
On the day she was born in South Carolina, her parents Alexis Juneau and Cameron Bowles were in for a shock.
"They went to take her rectal temperature when she was born, and Cameron said the nurse looked at him and said, 'She doesn't have a butt,'" Juneau said.
Elena was diagnosed with Vacterl, a rare form of non-random birth defect.
"Her vagina and her anal sphincter were fused together," Juneau explained.
When South Carolina doctors did all they could for Elena, mom turned to Le Bonheur Children's Hospital, where a surgeon successfully performed the first of several delicate surgeries Elena will need.
"When all the surgeries are over with, by the time she's one she'll never even know," said Juneau.
And a grateful mom wants to give back. Part of an online fundraiser she started will cover her past due bills. Anything donated that exceeds her goal, she will donate to Le Bonheur.
"The fact that she's not only thought about it, but she's taken great steps to figure out how to do that, I think is a great testament to her personally," Michelle Stubbs with Le Bonheur Foundation said.
"We don't need that money, so we're going to cap it off at what we need, and then I would rather give back to Lebonheur to do that for giving Elena her life back," Juneau said.
They are paying it forward, for a precious baby girl who can grow up to live a normal life.