Hannah, an 18-month-old girl from Dublin, has a fantastic sense of humor. She smiles a lot, and she loves music.
But Hannah’s life and happiness has been hard-won. She spent much of her first year, from the age of four to ten months, in a hospital, where she was treated for hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis (HLH), an autoimmune disease.
After chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant, Hannah’s HLH was cured, and she finally left isolation, though she still needs regular care because of the transplant. Now, she gets to explore the world around her, with help from her father, designer Stephen Crowley. And he photographs her every step of the way.
His Instagram page is filled with pictures of Hannah playing, reading, laughing. There are also pictures of Hannah balancing on a ladder, driving the car, handling kitchen knives. These photos, of course, aren’t real. They’re Photoshopped by a dad who’s overjoyed his daughter is finally safe.
The Photoshopped images of Hannah in precarious situations started off as a joke for friends and family, but they quickly went viral. It’s important to Crowley that people get the full story behind the photos; they are funny pictures of a happy girl, but they’re also a reminder of what’s important.
I asked the designer about what he hopes Hannah will see in these pictures, years down the road. “I hope she sees that even though it was a very tough time on all of us, we stayed positive” he said, “She has come out of this such a happy and resilient kid, proving laughter really is the best medicine, next to high doses of chemotherapy.”
He hopes the pictures and Hannah’s story will encourage people to join the bone marrow registry, where they can help save the lives of other children and adults. The only cure for HLH is a bone marrow transplant, and out of 27 million donors, only three in the world were a match for Hannah. Her donor was an anonymous woman from Germany.
All images © Stephen Crowley