Joey Powling Jr. has won the hearts of millions online with a photo of him spotting a charming smile after an open-heart surgery. All he had to do to achieve stardom was lie on his back with a winsome smile in spite of a four-inch scar on his chest.
The Powling viral photo was posted to Reddit but soon spilled over to Facebook and the image sharing site Quickmeme.
The Lowell Sun reports that within a day after the photo was posted to Reddit, it had received enough views and "up" votes to move to the front page of the site.
According to the Daily Mail, Matt Tassone, the three-month-old's uncle, posted the photo of his nephew to Reddit with the caption "ridiculously good-looking surgery baby."
The photo shows Powling of Dracut, Massachusetts, smiling cutely with a surgical scar on his chest shortly after an open-heart surgery.
According to the Daily Mail, his mother, Sarah, captured the post-operation photo on the day the surgeons uncovered the scar, a large incision running down his chest and stomach and ending an inch from his belly button.
Powling's smile appears to say to his mother, "Not to worry, mom, I'm man enough."
Powling's apparent dashing courage in the face of an ordeal elicited responses of admiration from thousands. He has been called the "Baby Bruce Wilis," and "a baby manlier than me," the Daily Mail reports.
Others have named him after the "Most Interesting Man Alive" ad campaign slogan, calling Joey "The successor to The Most Interesting Man Alive" and "the most interesting baby in the world."
The Huffington Post reports that a commenter referred to Powling's surgical scar: "He got it saving a school bus from a bunch of terrorists."
The inspiring photo has generated thousand of memes:
"Open heart surgery doc? Bring it on. Yeah, the chicks are gonna dig the scar..."
"Baby smiles, Chuck Norris cries."
"Tis but a flesh wound.”
“Chicks dig scars, right?”
Ridiculously good-looking surgery baby
Do Chicks really dig scars? CBS News reports that LikeGoldAndFaceted, gives a personal testimony on Reddit:
"As a 24 year old who has had that exact scar since I was four(born with a heart murmur) I can safely tell you that, yes, chicks love scars."
The Daily Mail reports that in spite of the lightheartedness of the meme captions, Powling's medical diagnosis is serious. Dan Phelps, Joey's grand-uncle, in an article for The Lowell Sun, said Powling was born in July with a condition called Tetralogy of Fallot (TOF), that manifests in newborns literally as a hole in the heart, among other serious life threatening symptoms, such as a bluish-purple color of the skin, clubbed fingers, feeding problems leading to failure to thrive.
Phelps, writing in The Lowell Sun , said TOF is “basically, a hole in the heart. Luckily, Joey was diagnosed while my niece, Sarah Powling of Dracut, was pregnant, and a plan was put in place to deal with the problem.”
Doctors made the decision, after assessment of the baby's condition, to carry out a surgical operation at three months.
A successful operation was performed at the Boston Children's Hospital on October 25. Joey's mother snapped the photo five days later on October 30, with the scar running down his chest to his belly in the backdrop of a disarming smile.
Although the surgery was successful, doctors say he will require lifelong close monitoring and medication.
The Daily Mail reports more than a million people worldwide have viewed the photo. Phelps, writing in The Lowell Sun, said: "Sarah was at first a little taken aback by the attention Joey received online, but she and Joe are now tickled by it."
Sarah said: "I took that photo because it was the first time they uncovered the whole scar, and I just wanted to get a picture of the scar, and he started smiling."
The Lowell Sun reports Powling's mother said reading comments praising her son was "a little strange but really cool. When he was in the hospital, I'd get on Facebook to see what people were saying. It helped get me and Joe through it all."
Joey's parents, Sarah and Joe, say they plan to use their son's fame to raise awareness about TOF among newborns. According to medical experts, the condition affects two of every 10,000 newborns. WebMD.com reports it is the most common heart defect in children.
Most cases require a corrective surgery in the first six months of life, but patients face a lifelong risk of arrhythmia and other heart problems.