Three-month-old Joey Powling of Massachusetts has become an Internet inspiration after being pictured just five days after having open heart surgery, smiling at the camera as though he doesn’t have a care in the world.
With more than a million “likes” on social media sites, the image went viral after being posted by the boy’s uncle on Reddit with the comment, “chicks dig scars, right?”
Since then, it took off as an Internet meme with commenters calling the infant a “baby Bruce Willis” or mini-Robert Downey Jr. Others have praised how tough he is, one joking: “Teething is gonna be a piece of cake.”
Here is the photo, via Reddit:
Little Joey’s parents appeared on The Today Show Monday, and their website has a recap:
Baby Joey was diagnosed with a serious heart condition when he was still in his mother’s womb. Doctors told Joey’s parents that their baby had a rare congenital heart defect, called Tetralogy of Fallot, which would need to be corrected surgically shortly after he was born.
The condition left Joey with a hole in his heart, along with several other life-threatening symptoms. But none of that was apparent in his first days of life.
“He was actually doing pretty well when he was born,” his mom Sarah Powling told TODAY’s Matt Lauer. “So usually if babies are doing well when they’re born they like to wait until 3 months when they are the right weight and everything.”
Without surgery, experts say, Joey would likely not have made it to 20-years-old. Now, he can live a completely normal life. Not only that, but because he had the surgery so early, the massive scar that now covers the majority of his midsection will be far less noticeable as he ages.
When host Matt Lauer said the boy undeniably has “game” and asked Sarah Powling what she thought her son was thinking at that moment, she said hesitantly: “I think he has to go to the bathroom…”
Watch the heartwarming interview, below:
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