NEW YORK -- Stephen Crowley is being crowned “father of the year” on the internet for an unlikely reason: putting his 18-month-old daughter in “unsafe situations” -- at least that’s how it appears at first glance.
The dad from Dublin, Ireland, is sharing Photoshopped images on his social media accounts that are making internet users do a double take.
In one, his daughter, Hannah, is climbing a banister on the second story of their home.
In another, she’s clasping a knife while sitting on a kitchen counter near Crowley as he prepares food over a hot stove.
“Cooking up a storm (before everyone goes crazy, don’t worry, the oven clock is set wrong, she isn’t actually still awake at 9.35pm),” Crowley joked in an Instagram post.
While the images may seem shocking to some, Crowley assures his fans they’re for a good cause.
His daughter was born with a very rare immune disorder called hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis (HLH), a condition in which the body makes too many activated immune cells. For six months, Hannah had to undergo chemotherapy followed by a bone marrow transplant -- the only possible cure.
When Hannah was released from the hospital at six months old, she was still kept in isolation for months, as she was at risk of infection. Crowley said that once she was finally in the clear, he wanted his daughter to experience as much as possible.
“Because we missed out on so much normal stuff of the first year, we take tons of photos now that we’re able to do normal things out of isolation,” he said. “She is doing much better now, in and out of hospital, but she’s lots of fun, always smiling, and has a great sense of humor given what she’s been through so far.”
As a professional designer, Crowley came up with the Photoshop project, which was originally meant to be a prank on family members.
“Considering how much she had been through in her first year and how delicate she was, I thought it would be funny to worry friends and family with the image of her on the fence near the lake,” Crowley said. “It got some great reactions, some who thought it was real and weren’t too happy, so I decided to make more.”
Now the proud dad is using the images to promote Be The Match’s bone marrow registry, hoping others will -- like his daughter’s donor -- be encouraged to donate.
Crowley’s interactions on Instagram have soared since he started posting the images. Since last week, Crowley said he’s gained more than 15,000 followers.
“The pressure is pretty high on the next one!” Crowley said.
Hannah is now on the road to recovery.
“She has come off most of her medication and is hitting all her developmental milestones. After everything she has been through, she is quite resilient and one very happy toddler,” Crowley said.