A tiny baby boy with the most charming little smile–and a scar almost as long as he is–is taking the web by storm this week after having open-heart surgery.
Joey Powling, Jr. was born with what is essentially a hole in his heart, although doctors stress it is much more complicated than that. The defect was detected while he was still in utero and surgery was scheduled when he was just three months old. After he began to heal, his mother, Sarah, snapped a photo of him with his scar on full display which has softened even the most hardened internet trolls; as soon as the photo was posted to Reddit by a family member, it quickly went to the front page and garnered thousands of positive comments, eventually becoming a meme.
“I took that photo because it was the first time they uncovered the whole scar,” Sarah explains. “Joe was playing with him, and I just wanted to get a picture of the scar, and he started smiling.”
While his family was shocked at the support at first, they say now that it’s a huge stepping stone towards spreading awareness about little Joey’s condition, which is called Tetralogy of Fallot. Early detection is key, but even then, those affected usually spend the rest of their lives on constant monitoring and medication for treatment.