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'It's a very terrifying thing': Jimmy Kimmel opens up about newborn son's heart surgery

“Even that Matt Damon sent flowers,” Kimmel said during a monologue on access to healthcare.

Jimmy Kimmel Source: Jimmy Kimmel Live/ABC

US TALK SHOW host Jimmy Kimmel turned his show’s monologue into an emotional recounting of his newborn son’s open-heart surgery – and a plea that all American families get the life-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 yesterday as he detailed how his son’s routine birth last week suddenly turned frightening.

Several hours after his wife, Molly, gave birth to William John, a “very attentive” nurse at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center alerted the couple and doctors to the baby’s purple-ish colour 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, Kimmel said, and it was determined to be the latter.

Baby Billy Baby Billy. Source: Jimmy Kimmel Live/ABC

“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.

Jimmy Kimmel 2 Source: Jimmy Kimmel

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

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

After thanking by name the nurses, doctors and staff at the two hospitals, along with his colleagues and friends – “Even that fucking Matt Damon sent flowers,” Kimmel said of his faux rival – the comedian then gave an impassioned speech on healthcare.

He criticised 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, right?

Jimmy Kimmel 3 Kimmel with baby Billy, his wife Molly, and two-year-old daughter Jane. Source: Jimmy Kimmel/ABC

Washington politicians meeting on healthcare need to “understand that very clearly,” he said. Partisan squabbles shouldn’t divide American on something “every decent person wants. We need to take care of each other.”

Kimmel said he would skip the rest of this week’s shows to be with his family while guest hosts take his place.

He was joined yesterday by Dr Mehmet Oz, who was a previously scheduled guest but jumped in to offer an illustrated description of Billy Kimmel’s heart problem.

Also on the show at Kimmel’s request was Shaun White, the Olympic gold medal snowboarder who discussed overcoming the same heart defect as Kimmel’s son.

Source: Jimmy Kimmel Live/YouTube

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