In his seven years of life, Carter Gentle has not had an easy time of it. Born with a congenital heart defect (CHD), Carter has had five open heart surgeries, the most recent of which was an emergency operation to repair his pacemaker. To add insult to injury, Carter has had to cope not only with serious, painful surgeries, but also the considerable scarring left in their wake. After his latest procedure, Carter was particularly upset about the scarring on his chest. Looking for a way to help, his father, country singer Mark Gentle, posted a picture of Carter’s scars on Facebook and asked followers to show their love. Carter received massive support from friends and strangers from around the world when the photo of his surgical scars went viral.
Mark Gentle told TODAY Parents that after Carter’s latest surgery,
He went down to the bathroom to look in the mirror and he just started sobbing. He said, “People are going to think I'm ugly. My scars look horrible.” As a parent, it just tears your heart out. As much as that kid's been through, the last thing I ever want him to worry about is scars.
Mark tried to help by posting a photo of Carter with his scars exposed, asking Facebook friends, “How many likes can Carter get for his bravery?!” He never expected the post to take the internet by storm, but Carter’s story struck a chord among readers, garnering over 1.3 million “Likes” and almost 65 thousand comments.
If that weren’t ridiculously heartwarming enough, Mark said to TODAY Parents that he set his phone to beep every time the post got another like or comment and told his son that each beep was another person supporting him. He said,
[Carter] would look at me with these big eyes each time and say, “Dad, is that for me again?” It's been a huge confidence booster and it has been therapeutic for Carter.
Mark, who lives with Carter and the rest of his family in Farmington, Maine, has also released a song in support of Carter and other kids with CHD.
For more info about CHD, visit the Pediatric Congenital Heart Association.
Images: Mark Gentle/Facebook