Jimmy Kimmel teared up multiple times as he discussed his infant’s heart disease
A sick child is every parent’s worst nightmare. A sick baby is nothing short of terrifying. Childbirth is harrowing enough already, but when the newborn shows signs of struggle, the panic and fear and helplessness can be overwhelming.
Talk show host Jimmy Kimmel knows that first-hand, and was clearly still feeling the impact of the experience when he tearfully told the story of his new son’s congenital heart disease.
On April 21st, Jimmy Kimmel and his wife Molly welcomed their second child, Billy, and at first everything seemed fine. It wasn’t long before the nurses noticed the child had both a heart murmur and a purple hue to his skin, and doctors were called in.
It turned out that Billy had a congenital heart disease and required immediate surgery. The comedian explained it all to his audience on Monday night, choking up multiple times while recounting the tale, which included a three-hour open heart surgery on the hours-old infant.
That Friday night, Kimmel said, “was the longest three-hours of my life.”
After sharing the tale, Kimmel spends a few minutes thanking the delivery staff of both the Cedars Sinai Hospital for the quick diagnosis and the doctors and nurses at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles for their quick response and the successful operation. Billy isn’t entirely out of the woods, as he’ll need another surgery in a few months, when he’s bigger, and one more in his early teens.
At one point, the host shared a photo of his son a few days after surgery, and it’s hard to see his skin for all the bandages and tubes covering his tiny body.
But Kimmel quickly followed that photo up with a picture of his smiling, healthy son, lightening the mood with his affable, self-deprecating humor.
“Poor kid, not only did he get a bad heart, he got my face.”
Kimmel and his wife took their new baby home just six days after the surgery, and despite the terrifying weekend, Billy has recovered well. “He’s doing great. He’s eating, he’s sleeping, he peed on his mother today while she was changing his diaper. He’s doing all the things he’s supposed to do.”
Before wrapping up his nearly 15-minute monologue, Kimmel used his massive platform to discuss the state of healthcare in our country, getting emotional once more, this time on behalf of families and children less fortunate than he.
“President Trump last month proposed a six billion dollar cut in funding to the National Institute of Health, and thank God our congressman didn’t go along with that…More than 40% of the people who would have been affected by those cuts to the National Institute of Health are children.”
Not only is Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles one of the facilities that would have been impacted, children with pre-existing conditions, such as pregenital heart disease like Kimmel’s son, could be denied health care.
The host continued his monologue, pushing through his still raw emotions to take the opportunity to praise Obamacare and remind Americans what’s at stake as the GOP continues to try and push through a new healthcare plan.
“We were brought up to believe that we live in the greatest country in the world, but until a few years ago, millions and millions of us had no access to health insurance at all,” Kimmel stated. “Before 2014, if you were born with congenital heart disease like my son was, there was a good chance you would never be able to get health insurance because you had a preexisting condition. You were born with a preexisting condition, and if your parents didn’t have medical insurance, you might not even live long enough to get denied because of a preexisting condition.”
When my son was born fifteen months ago, some breathing issues required that he stay in the NICU for a few days. It was nowhere near as critical as open heart surgery but it was terrifying. I can’t imagine going on television in the aftermath of all that and telling the story to a studio audience, let alone millions of viewers.
And I certainly wouldn’t have the wherewithal to tie my son’s plea into the larger picture. But Kimmel summed it all up, getting emotional again as he lamented the potential consequences of millions losing their health insurance.
“If your baby is going to die, and it doesn’t have to, it shouldn’t matter how much money you make.”
After the monologue, Jimmy went on with the show. Thankfully, he’ll be taking the rest of the week off for paternity leave. It was incredibly brave of him to share such a personal story at such an emotional time, and making a plea for other children who could suffer if we allow people with pre-existing conditions to once again be shunned by insurance companies.