The Story Behind the Viral Dad-Hugging-Doctor Photo

Photo credit: Sarah Ledford/ ShutterHappy Photography
Photo credit: Sarah Ledford/ ShutterHappy Photography

A photo of a grateful dad hugging a doctor has gone viral thanks in part to the bittersweet story behind it. In the photo, Andrew Hanson of Boise, Idaho, hugs Dr. Bryan Hodges, who just delivered Hanson's son, Karson. But behind the happy hug is a sadder story.

Last year, Dr. Hodges delivered Hanson's first child, a baby boy named Klayton, who experienced an oxygen shortage at birth and died six days later.

Hanson and his wife Amanda, both 34, had struggled with fertility issues before she became pregnant with Klayton. Although the pregnancy was pretty textbook, at birth the baby suffered from meconium aspiration, which occurs when a baby passes its first stool too early because of placenta problems and then ends up with blocked airways after inhaling it. Dr. Hodges also delivered Klayton, the first patient he had lost since he first began delivering babies in 2002, and he remained in touch with the Hansons during the pregnancy.

Hanson told this week that he immediately knew something was wrong with Klayton because he never cried. Karson, however, let out a huge wail as soon as he was born. "That was the most beautiful thing I’d ever heard," Andrew Hanson said. And he was so moved by the experience that he immediately embraced Dr. Hodges, who still had the baby's freshly-cut umbilical cord in his hand.

"Andrew looked up at me and he had tears streaming down his eyes … and he walked around and gave me a big hug. It was a good closure," Hodge told

The lovely moment was captured by Sarah Ledford, a maternity photographer. She posted the photo to a birth photography community Facebook page on June 24, nearly three months after Karson was born on April 6. "10 months ago, I was the birth photographer for the birth of this mom and dad's first child," she wrote. "This photo is from the birth of their miracle "Rainbow Baby", a 2nd son yesterday. Miracle because it took everyone by shock that they were even pregnant again so soon after. Totally by "accident" (they like to believe their first son had a hand in it) after it had taken them years to conceive their first. Happy and healthy. Dad and doc embraced and cried and it took my breath away."

Andrew and Amanda Hanson with their son Karson. (Photo: ShutterHappy Photography)
Andrew and Amanda Hanson with their son Karson. (Photo: ShutterHappy Photography)

Since then, the picture has been shared more than 15,000 times and now has more than 270,000 likes. But for the Hansons, no amount of online attention can come close to the joy they feel when they look at their new little boy. "Looking at Karson, I try to imagine where Klayton would be at this point and some days it just hits me like a ton of bricks that he’s not here. I just wish he was," mom Amanda said in the Today interview. But they believe that Klayton helped bring his little brother into the world and that, somewhere, he's watching and smiling.

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