Nathen Steffel’s daughter was born in late May. She died six weeks later from complications from hepatic hemangioma, a non-cancerous liver tumour.
Steffel and his wife, who live in Ohio, were never able to take baby Sophia home from the hospital. She had to stay there, a tube in her mouth, an IV in her hand. She died last Thursday.
“It was an emotional rollercoaster but it was the best six weeks of our life,” Steffel told ABC News.
Of all the many things he and his wife were deprived of, one was a photo of the baby free of all that medical equipment.
Over the weekend, Steffel took to the social networking site Reddit in the hopes of getting just such a picture.
“My daughter recently passed away after a long battle in the children’s hospital,” he wrote on the site. “Since she was in the hospital her whole life we never were able to get a photo without all her tubes. Can someone remove the tubes from this photo?”
Nearly 3, 000 people replied to the post, many of whom used their skills with Photoshop to give Steffel the photo he wanted. At least one Reddit user even submitted a drawing of the baby.
The outpouring of condolences and support on the site clearly moved Steffel, who wrote in an e-mail to TODAY Parents that he was never looking for publicity, “I just wanted a picture.”
“I was overwhelmed with the response I got,” he continued. “My wife and I were so grateful so many people took the time out of their lives to either send a nice message of sympathy or an awesome drawing. They couldn’t have made this father any happier.”