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Jimmy Kimmel returned to television after a week off the air, and in a heartfelt and tear-filled monologue, shared the story of his son’s birth and his life-threatening health scare.
Kimmel was close to tears before he started, so he assured viewers that this story had a happy ending. He and his wife Molly welcomed a boy, whom they named William (but that they’re calling Billy), and for the first few hours everything seemed OK. Once a nurse noticed that Billy’s face was purple, she alerted other doctors, who discovered that Billy had a congenital heart disease.
Billy was born with a blocked pulmonary valve and “he has a hole in the wall between his left and right sides of his heart.” He was transferred to Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, and at three days old, Billy underwent emergency open heart surgery to repair one of the holes. After, as Kimmel put it, “the longest three hours of my life,” the surgery was a complete success.
“He’ll have to have another open-heart surgery in 3-6 months to close those holes, but they want to wait until he’s bigger,” Kimmel said. “And then he’ll have to have a third, hopefully noninvasive surgery when he’s older.”
Kimmel and his wife were able to take Billy home, where he’s doing the things any baby would. Recognizing the platform he has, he thanked every single nurse and doctor at Cedars-Sinai and Children’s Hospital who helped save Billy’s life by name, thanked his friends and family who were nothing but supportive during this crisis—yes, even Matt Damon—and alerted his audience to the incredible work Children’s Hospital does for children and their families. He already donated to Children’s Hospital but didn’t think he would ever need to go there.
Toward the end Kimmel acknowledged the political fight over healthcare access after thanking his congressman for agreeing to increase funds for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the federal budget. Donald Trump wanted to cut NIH funds, which would affect places like Children’s Hospital. And until a few years ago, children like his son might have never had access to health insurance because they happened to be born with a preexisting condition like a congenital heart defect. Or, the child might not have lived long enough to be denied because their parents didn’t have health insurance.
“If your baby is going to die and it doesn’t have to, it shouldn’t matter how much money you make,” he explained. “I think that’s something that—whether you’re a Republican or a Democrat or something else—we all agree on that, right?”
“I saw a lot of families there, and no parent should ever have to decide if they can afford to save their child’s life,” he added. “It just shouldn’t happen. Not here.”
Michelle Jaworski is a staff writer and the resident Game of Thrones expert at the Daily Dot. She covers entertainment, geek culture, and pop culture and has brought her knowledge to conventions like Con of Thrones. She is based in New Jersey.