Dracut baby takes Internet by storm after surgery

Posted: 11/12/12 at 1:10 pm EST      Last Updated: 11/12/12 at 1:33 pm EST

UNDATED (WHDH) -- Three-month-old Joey Powling of Dracut earned over 1 million Facebook likes and sparked dozens of memes after his uncle posted a photo of the baby after open heart surgery.

Baby Joey’s mother and father spoke about the surgery that left him with an inches-long scar and Internet fame on the “Today” show Monday.

Little Joey Powling was smiling just five days after open heart surgery. The scar running the length of his chest and stomach stops just above his belly button. One relative said it looked like an exclamation point, and that positivity translates into Joey’s beaming face.

Joey’s parents appeared on the “Today” show to talk about their son.

"He was actually doing pretty well when he was born and so usually if baby’s are doing okay when they’re born they like to wait until about three months when they’re the right weight and everything,” said Sarah Powling, Joey’s mother.

Joey had four defects affecting his heart, including a hole in the tissue. Mom and dad knew well before he was born, and doctors at Boston Children's Hospital had been planning on the surgery.

About 40 out of 1 million children are born with the condition.

“And the importance of correcting those defects is without the heart surgery, the life span’s about 20. But with heart surgery and doing well, life expectancy, a normal life, he’s just going to be like everybody else,” said Dr. Nancy Snyderman.

And soon enough, his scar will only be a fading reminder.

“Because the surgery was done so young and so early in his life, the cells will divide so that scar isn’t going to look like much when he’s a young hunk,” Dr. Snyderman said.

The craze for little Joey started right after his uncle decided to post the smiling photo on reddit.com with the caption: "chicks dig scars right?"

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