Through Tears, Jimmy Kimmel Makes A Plea For Health Care

The talk show host revealed that his newborn son underwent open-heart surgery

Last night, Jimmy Kimmel surprised his audience when he veered away from his traditional monologue to tell a truly harrowing story about what happened to his son, William Kimmel, after he was born on April 21. Kimmel, who was fighting back tears from the start, revealed that he and his wife, Molly, endured a parent’s worst nightmare when it was discovered that their son was born with a congenital heart disease.

It was shortly after William was born that a nurse noticed something was wrong. “My wife was in bed relaxing, a very attentive nurse at Cedars-Sinai heard a murmur in his heart and noticed he was a bit purple, which is not common,” Kimmel said. He describes a scene of a terrifying escalation, as more doctors, nurses, and equipment were rushed into the room as it dawned on the staff that something was terribly wrong. “[Nurses] determined he wasn’t getting enough oxygen in his blood, either in his heart or lungs… It’s a terrifying thing, you know, my wife is back in the recovery room, she has no idea what’s going on,” he said through tears.

As the doctors put it, there was a “hole in the wall of the left and right side of his heart.” So Kimmel’s son was rushed to another hospital where he underwent successful open heart surgery. And although the story has a happy ending, Kimmel says his son will have to have another surgery in three to six months, and then another one when he’s older. ““Poor kid, not only did he get a bad heart, he got my face,” he joked.

He got serious again when used his son’s ordeal to emphasize the need for affordable health care in this country and to assail the current administration for trying to take it away from millions of Americans. “President Trump last month proposed a $6 billion cut in funding to the National Institute of Health, and thank god, our congressmen made a deal last night to not go along with that. They actually increased funding by $2 billion, and I applaud them for doing that,” Kimmel said. “Because more than 40 percent of the people who would have been affected by those cuts to the National Institute of Health are children.”

“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,” he continued. “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.”

He went on: “If your baby is going to die, and it doesn’t have to, it shouldn’t matter how much money you make. I think that’s something now, whether you’re a Republican or Democrat, or something else, we all agree on that, right?” 

Watch the full clip, above.