The Internet is helping to give a young boy a big boost in confidence.
Carter Gentle of Farmington, Maine, was born with a congenital heart defect, and underwent a surgery to repair a pacemaker earlier this month. However, when the 7-year-old removed his bandages following surgery, he was unhappy with what he saw, according to a Facebook post by his father, Mark Gentle.
"[Carter] cried for 45 minutes when he saw his scars," Gentle wrote on Facebook. "He said that he's afraid people will think he is ugly."
To help convince Carter of his bravery, Gentle posted a picture of the boy and his scars to Facebook this past Saturday, asking people to share and like the photo. The post quickly went viral, with more than 1.3 million likes, and over 93,000 shares -- a testament to Carter's strength.
"He would look at me with these big eyes each time and say, 'Dad, is that for me again?'" Gentle told Today.com, explaining that he turned the volume up on his phone, allowing his son to hear the notifications. "It's been a huge confidence booster and it has been therapeutic for Carter."
Carter isn't new to surgery -- his latest one was his 12th. But Gentle told The Huffington Post that his son's reaction to the procedure was different this time, since he was a bit older and more aware of what people may think of him.
By sharing the post, the dedicated father said that he expected some of his friends to offer Carter words of encouragement, but it ended up turning into so much more.
"All the comments we've gotten from other [congenital heart defect] families -- tens of thousands of people have sent me comments and private messages of their scars and their children's scars," Gentle said. "I never expected for this to happen."
Gentle told HuffPost that Carter is recovering well and most importantly, far more comfortable with his scars.
"His scars are what makes him, him. They show everybody what he's overcome and that he was stronger than the disease that tried to kill him," Gentle told Today.com. "I've been able to explain to him that there's a lot of people that have a lot of scars, and that you need to be proud of your scars."
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