Couple wed twenty years after they met during life-changing surgery as kids

When they were scheduled to have surgery within days of each other at the same hospital, the pair became friends.

Romance blossomed and they shared a kiss in the playroom surrounded by cuddly toys.

It wasn’t until almost a decade later that Emily reached out to the little boy she had met and they soon fell in love.

Emily never forgot Cameron and in 2004 she asked her mum if she still had the family’s phone number.

‘I always remembered that little boy and I asked my mom if she was still in contact with his mom,’ said Emily.

‘She gave me the phone number but she called first because I was so nervous.

‘Cameron and I started emailing and talking on the phone, we could relate to each other on a different level because we had been through the same thing.

‘We were both in middle school and it was a very fragile time.’

After years of chatting, in 2006 Emily surprised Cameron with a visit, seeing each other for the first time since they were children.

‘We had been racking up some hefty phone bills with all our calls to each other,’ she said.

‘To be honest, when we met it was quite awkward at first. But that only lasted for about ten minutes. Soon it was fine.

‘We were old friends and it was like no time had passed. It was everything I had hoped it would be. We started dating shortly afterwards.’

In November 2012, Cameron, who works as a car salesman, popped the question and they married in 2015. They are now the proud parents of two-year-old Everleigh Grace.

Emily, who works as a team leader in a medical billing department, said: ‘We have bladder exstrophy to thank for everything in our life.

‘Without this birth “defect”, I wouldn’t have met the man I married, the father of my daughter.’

‘Cameron and I were born with our bladders on the outside, and because the condition is so rare we both sought help from John Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, even though I was from Wisconsin and Cameron was from Ohio.

‘I do remember meeting him.

‘It was very nice to meet someone with the same thing, even just to have someone to play with in the hospital.

‘We would play Nintendo while we were at the Ronald McDonald house recovering together.

‘During the operation, the doctor broke our hipbones and placed them closer together.

‘While we were healing, they put steel pins in our hips to let the bones set properly and we had to be careful how we laid down.

‘We both lay in these wagons and our mothers wheeled us around Baltimore.

‘When we did get our pins out and we were healing, there was a big pile of teddy bears in the playroom and Cameron kissed me under those teddy bears.

‘It felt special but of course I had no idea that my first kiss would turn into my husband.’

The couple support other bladder exstrophy sufferers by working with Courage To Shine, an organisation founded to celebrate people who overcome birth defects.

Emily said: ‘We try to advocate to teenagers, kids and adults with bladder exstrophy that they are going to be alright.

‘My birth defect led me to the greatest gift, Cameron.’

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