Jimmy Kimmel chokes up talking about his son’s heart surgery, 3 days after he was born
Jimmy Kimmel could hardly hold back tears as he told his audience about how his son needed heart surgery only three days after he was born.
Kimmel’s son Billy was born on April 21, he said in a monologue.
And everything seemed right with the boy until a nurse heard a murmur in his heart.
A murmur is pretty normal for babies, Kimmel said. But the nurse also saw that he was a bit purple. That’s not very common.
Billy was taken to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at L.A.’s Cedars-Sinai Hospital, where Kimmel learned that his newborn son had a heart condition known as tetralogy of Fallot with pulmonary atresia.
It’s a condition that affects the normal flow of blood through the heart, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The condition can reduce the amount of oxygen that flows to the rest of the body.
In Billy’s case, the pulmonary valve was completely blocked and there was a hole in the wall between the right and left sides of his heart, Kimmel said.
The boy was whisked to Children’s Hospital Los Angeles where, three days later, a surgeon spent three hours operating on Billy’s chest and fixing one of the defects.
“He went in with a scalpel and did some kind of magic that I couldn’t even begin to explain,” Kimmel said.
Billy hasn’t had his last heart surgery — he’ll require another operation to close the holes in his heart but doctors want to wait until he’s bigger.
But Kimmel was able to bring a happy-looking baby boy home six days after his surgery.
“Poor kid, not only did he get a bad heart, he got my face,” Kimmel joked as a picture of a smiling Billy showed up on the screen.
Kimmel thanked family and friends for supporting him through Billy’s heart troubles — including long-time joke-rival Matt Damon, who sent flowers.
But the host also struck a serious tone in his monologue, noting that U.S. President Donald Trump last month proposed a $6 billion cut in funding to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
“More than 40 per cent of the people who have been affected by those cuts to the NIH are children, and it would have a major impact on a lot of great places including Children’s Hospital in L.A.,” Kimmel said.
He went on to say that, before 2014, if you were born with a heart disease like Billy was, “there’s a chance you would never have been able to get health insurance because you had a pre-existing condition.”
“If your baby is going to die but it doesn’t have to, it shouldn’t matter how much money you make,” Kimmel said. “I think that’s something, whether you’re a Republican or a Democrat or something else, we all agree on that, right?
Kimmel called on politicians to not let “partisan squabbles” divide them on issues such as a child’s access to medical treatment.
“No parent should ever have to decide if they can afford to save their child’s life,” he said.
“It just shouldn’t happen, not here.”
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