Have you seen Jimmy Kimmel's on-air speech that has the internet quietly sobbing and holding itself? The talk-show host revealed that his wife gave birth to a son, Billy, just two weeks ago — but what should have been a happy day for the family quickly turned into a life-or-death situation for the newborn.
Struggling through tears, Kimmel explained that while they were getting acquainted with their newest member, an attentive nurse (who he called out and thanked by name) noticed that the newborn had a murmur in his heart and was turning slightly purple. While doctors weren’t initially sure what was wrong with the newborn, they quickly discovered that the baby suffered from a severe and life-threatening heart defect that required immediate surgery.
Kimmel then took a moment to thank the extraordinary doctors and nurses at Cedars-Sinai, given that they were able to quickly identify the disease and get his son to Los Angeles Children’s Hospital where the newborn had open-heart surgery.
“It was the longest three hours of my life,” Kimmel told the audience. Thankfully, the surgery was successful and baby Billy was able to stabilize and make a recovery. But this isn’t the end for the little guy. Billy is now getting strong to prepare for another surgery next month, at which point a valve will be implanted into his heart. If all goes well, Billy won’t have to have another surgery until that valve is noninvasively replaced in his early teen years.
After sharing this emotional roller coaster with the audience, Kimmel switched gears and explained that many babies with his son’s condition aren’t as lucky as Billy, and that a lot of that has to do with the health care system’s unclear stance on preexisting conditions.
“Before 2014, if you were born with congenital heart disease like my son was, there was a good chance you’d never be able to get health insurance because you had a preexisting condition…,” Kimmel explained to his audience. “And if your parents didn’t have medical insurance, you might not live long enough to even get denied because of a preexisting condition.”
Kimmel went on to give the audience a collective punch right in the feels by closing with this statement on health care in America: “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 — whether you’re a Republican or a Democrat or something else — that we all agree on, right?”
At times like these, it’s important to remember that Kimmel is right: No newborn should die because he or she doesn’t have access to health care services. Now it’s up to us to do something about it.