Today in uplifting internet news: Redditors help father who lost his infant daughter

When 26-year-old Nathen Steffel of Ohio asked Reddit if someone could alter an image of his infant daughter Sophia to remove the tubes she had been connected to since birth, he was hoping for one nice response. He received thousands of images and messages from all over the world. (Casey Capachi/The Washington Post)

A few days ago, 26-year-old Nathen Steffel turned to Reddit with a digital editing request to remember his deceased newborn.

“My daughter recently passed away after a long battle in the children’s hospital,” Steffel wrote. “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?”

The responses flooded in. Steffel received gifts and packages at his house.

“After three hours of it being posted it was the no. 1 trending thing on Reddit,’ said Steffel, who lives in Ohio. “I had a thousand personal messages and replies.

“Some of the artists have sent their pictures and drawings directly to our house. Some have even done embroidering on blankets. I was just hoping for at least one good Photoshopped picture.”

(Image via Reddit)
(Image via Reddit)

The above photo of Steffel’s only daughter, Sophia, is one of his favorites, he said. Her eyes are open and she’s alert, but there’s still the hospital equipment that had been with Sophia since she was born on May 30. The picture was taken when Sophia was about 3 ½ to four weeks old. She died a couple of weeks later, on July 10.

“I hope you and your wife enjoy this version,” wrote one Redditor, who submitted this image. “My best friend recently lost her son  … thank you for allowing us to work on this photo for you.”

Said another: “I am reading this from the recovery room. Our baby is 23 hours old. I can’t possibly imagine how you must feel. Go hug your wife, and tell her its from reddit.”

“You have my deepest condolences, she is a lovely girl,” said another Redditor, who relayed a similar story.

“I’m very sorry… My son is 9 months old and I couldn’t sleep without at least trying,” wrote another, who submitted the image below:

(Image via Reddit)
(Image via Reddit)

Here’s a couple more of the pictures that were submitted this week:

(Image via Reddit)
(Image via Reddit/tacothecat)

(Image via Reddit/izzyzzi)

Outside of Reddit, there are organizations that take photos of infants who pass away shortly after birth, turn wedding gowns into burial clothes, or touch up photos of children who were stillborn.

“This is really amazing. Everyone you have made my day,” Steffel wrote after posting his original request. “All I wanted was a nice picture. What I received was a lot of love and support from a bunch of strangers.”

Sarah Larimer is a general assignment reporter for the Washington Post.
Casey Capachi is a video and web producer for The Washington Post.
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