Internet memes come and go, but one that depicts the cutest little munchkin after his open heart surgery at only 3 months may stick around. Joey Powling let out a smirk just five days into his recuperation from a serious operation, a smile that now inspires the world because of its bravery and adorableness, which has dubbed him the title "Ridiculously Good-Looking Surgery Baby," ABC News reported.
Little Joey was born with Tetralogy of Fallot (TOF), which is a rare congenital heart defect that develops during fetal development and results in abnormal blood flow caused by structural problems of the heart, according to the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute. In Joey's case, he had a ventricular septal defect, which causes oxygen-rich and oxygen-poor blood to mix through a hole in the heart's septum.
“The lower ventricles didn’t grow and connect, leaving a little hole there,” said Joey's dad, Joe Powling, quoted by the news source. “It was kind of nerve-wracking.”
Joey's photo is flooding the internet
The memes depict Joey after his surgery with his chest incision exposed and a smile on his face with phrases like "Open heart surgery at 3 months and you're going to complain about the weather?" and "Hey girl, you turn my heart upside down, so they had to fix it."
Currently, the photo used for the memes has been "liked" more than 1.6 million times on Facebook.
The Powlings found out about their son's defect only 24 weeks into pregnancy during a prenatal ultrasound screening. The condition requires surgical intervention after birth to reduce the baby's risk of arrhythmia - irregular heart rate patterns - and increase his or her chances of having a healthy heart for all the years to come.
Now, after his seven-hour operation, Joey is on his way to making a full recovery, although there is the potential need for a second surgery in about a year. His parents are keeping viewers everywhere informed on the website they created called JoeyHeartsYou.com, where people can read about his story, see photos of him and even leave comments in a guestbook.
Ultimately, the Powlings want America to know that many babies are born with congenital heart defects like TOF, and that advancements in medicine make it possible for these children to live long and healthy lives.
What do you think of little Joey? Leave your answers in the comments section!