Wed, May 03, 2017 - Page 7 News List

US TV show host recounts newborn son’s heart surgery


A tearful Jimmy Kimmel turned his TV show’s monologue into an emotional recounting of his newborn son’s open-heart surgery — and a plea that all US families get the live-saving medical care they need.

“It was a scary story and before I go into it, I want you to know it has a happy ending,” Kimmel assured ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel Live studio audience on Monday as he detailed how his son’s routine birth last week suddenly turned frightening.

Several hours after his wife, Molly, gave birth on April 21 to William John, a “very attentive” nurse at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center alerted the couple and doctors to the baby’s purplish color and an apparent heart murmur, the host said.

The baby’s lack of oxygen was either due to a lung problem or, worst-case scenario, heart disease, and it was determined to be the latter, Kimmel said.

“It’s a very terrifying thing,” he said.

He was surrounded at the hospital by very worried-looking people, “kind of like right now,” he told the audience, one of the jokes he managed despite choking up and having to pause at times.

A sonogram showed his son was born with holes in the wall separating the right and left sides of the heart and a blocked pulmonary valve, Kimmel said.

The baby, nicknamed Billy, was taken by ambulance to Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles to undergo surgery to open the valve.

“The longest three hours of my life,” Kimmel said

Billy is to have another open-heart surgery within six months to repair the openings and then a third procedure when he is a young teenager, but he came home six days after the surgery and is “doing great,” Kimmel said.

He thanked by name the nurses, doctors and staff at the two hospitals, along with his colleagues and friends

He criticized US President Donald Trump’s proposed cuts to the National Institutes of Health and praised Congress for instead calling for increased funding.

“If your baby is going to die and it doesn’t have to, it shouldn’t matter how much money you make... Whether you’re a Republican or a Democrat or something else, we all agree on that,” he said.

Washington politicians meeting on healthcare need to “understand that very clearly,” he said.

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