Emotional Jimmy Kimmel tells of newborn son's emergency surgery
He also criticised Donald Trump’s proposed health cuts in the US.
Jimmy Kimmel struggled to fight back tears as he revealed his newborn son was forced to undergo emergency open-heart surgery shortly after his birth.
The US chat show host shared his news in an emotional opening monologue on his programme Jimmy Kimmel Live and also put out a plea that all families in America get the life-saving medical care that they need.
He spoke of the “longest three hours of my life” as he told the studio audience of the ordeal he and his wife Molly went through during the surgery just days ago.
Jimmy started by telling the audience he had a “scary story” but promised it has a “happy ending”.
Several hours after Molly gave birth on April 21 to William John, a “very attentive” nurse at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Centre in Los Angeles alerted the couple and doctors to the baby’s slight purple colour and apparent heart murmur, Jimmy said.
He said there were concerns the baby’s lack of oxygen was either due to a lung problem or heart disease, and there were fears it was the latter.
The Oscars host said of the moment he learned his son was ill: “It’s a very terrifying thing.”
He was surrounded at the hospital by very worried-looking people, “kind of like right now”, he told the audience in a rare light-hearted moment during his emotional speech, throughout which he often had to pause as he regained his composure.
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, Jimmy said.
The baby, nicknamed Billy, was taken by ambulance to the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles to undergo surgery to open the valve.
“The longest three hours of my life,” Jimmy said, adding that the operation was a “success”.
Billy will have more 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”, Jimmy said.
The TV star shared photos of him with his wife, their two-year-old daughter Jane and a smiling Billy after the surgery.
After thanking by name the nurses, doctors and staff at the two hospitals, along with his colleagues and friends, he joked that “even that son of a b**** Matt Damon sent flowers”, about his pretend rival.
He said of the support they received: “We even had atheists praying for us.”
The comedian then spoke passionately about healthcare in the US and criticised President Donald Trump’s proposed cuts to the National Institutes of Health and praised Congress for instead calling for increased funding.
Jimmy said: “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?”
Washington politicians meeting on healthcare need to “understand that very clearly”, he said.
Partisan squabbles should not divide Americans on something “every decent person wants. We need to take care of each other”, he said.
Following the broadcast, Jimmy thanked his fans for their support on Twitter.