Jimmy Kimmel breaks down over almost losing his newborn son

Jimmy Kimmel and his wife, Molly McNearney, welcomed a son on April 21st: William John Kimmel. They call him Billy. On Monday night’s show, Jimmy revealed that Billy was born with a congenital heart disease and required open heart surgery only four days after coming into the world. Although he tried to inject his trademark witticisms to offset the fear, Jimmy’s emotions understandably overtook him as he told the story.

Billy suffers from Tetralogy of Fallot with pulmonary atresia which means the wall between his left and right sides of his heart has a hole in it in addition to a blocked pulmonary valve. It can appear to some as a simple heart murmur and go undetected, which proves fatal. Fortunately, Billy’s attending nurse thought his color was off and investigated immediately, which saved his life. As Jimmy said before he began his story – this has a happy outcome so don’t worry. It’s a rough ride getting to that happy ending but just know that Billy is – and will be – okay.

What part got to you the most? For me it was when he described standing in the room without his wife when the situation went from “okay” to “scary”. I was able to picture that in my mind’s eye as he said it. And then to think of what poor Molly must have gone through being wheeled into that room. If you haven’t watched it yet, Billy had the valve unblocked. In a few months, when he’s stronger, they will open his chest again to fix the holes in his heart’s wall. Jimmy scheduled Dr. Oz as a guest, who discussed the condition from which Billy suffers in depth and Shaun White, who had the same surgery as Billy and assured Jimmy, Billy would overcome it.

Jimmy brought the discussion around to the fact that #45 proposed $6 billion in cuts to the National Institute in Health and that, fortunately, Congress not only rejected those cuts but increased the budget by $2 billion. It’s in the clip but I think it’s a powerful enough point to reiterate:

“More than 40 percent of the people who would have been affected by those cuts to the National Institute of Health are children, and it would have a major impact on a lot of great places, which is so unbelievably sad to me. 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. You know, before 2014, if you were born with congenital heart disease like my son was, there’s a good chance you’d never be able to get health insurance because you had a pre-existing condition. You were born with a pre-existing condition. If your parents didn’t have medical insurance, you might not even live long enough to get denied because of your pre-existing condition. 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 that whether you’re a Republican or a Democrat or something else, we all agree on that, right? We do. Whatever your party, whatever you believe, whoever you support, we need to make sure the people who are supposed to represent us understand that very clearly. Let’s stop with the nonsense, this isn’t football, there are no teams. We are the team. It’s the United States. Don’t let their partisan squabbles divide us on something every decent person wants. We need to take care of each other. I saw a lot of families there, and no parent should ever have to decide if they can afford to save their child’s life. It just shouldn’t happen. Not here.”

Jimmy made sure to thank everyone involved. I was already ping-ponging emotionally when he mentioned our pediatrician – who is an amazing guy in every sense. I mean, I made him a character in my book – that’s how amazing I think he is. In a COMPLETE COINCIDENCE, my kids had their physicals yesterday. Seriously, even I won’t brave LA traffic for gossip, I’d booked the appointments months ago. So after we finished fawning over Dr. Superhero, I asked if he could get me tickets to Kimmel – just kidding. But apparently, the Kimmel-McNearney family is a lovely one and Jimmy talking about it as he is will bring so much awareness to the issue. That’s all the scoop I got… stupid ethical medical professionals.

As he mentions in the clip, if you would like to donate to Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, please do so at CHLA.org/Donate or any hospital in your area that doesn’t turn families away based on income.

Photo credit: Twitter, Instagram and Getty Images

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65 Responses to “Jimmy Kimmel breaks down over almost losing his newborn son”

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  1. Lindy79 says:

    Those pictures make my heart ache.

    Obama has replied to him on Twitter
    “Well said, Jimmy,” the former president tweeted. “That’s exactly why we fought so hard for the ACA, and why we need to protect it for kids like Billy.”


    • Esmom says:

      Yes. *tears*

    • Tate says:

      I am so glad Jimmy spoke up. It was powerful. My daughter spent the first 11 days of her life in the NICU. It would have bankrupted us if we hadn’t had good insurance.

    • Otaku Fairy says:

      Hopefully everything goes well with their baby’s operation and his health. And that last picture at the bottom with the family together is so precious.

  2. Nicole says:

    I find it appalling that people in this country are not onboard with universal healthcare. Or are so selfish they would rather pay taxes for 45s golfing trips than healthcare for all. That’s insane to me. You should not be bankrupt because of an illness. We are not the best country in the world and this is one major reason. Healthcare is a right but this country is so content with bowing to corporations that would rather profit off of our deaths than seeing us healthy.

    This story brought me to tears. Also Billy’s little smiles 🙂

    • Becky says:

      Nicole, I think it’s because any public option is viewed in the US as socialist and therefore evil. The countries with the best healthcare systems are at least part public option (e.g. Canada, France).

      • Nicole says:

        I know. Socialism is evil yet we take part in socialism daily by using our taxes to pay for schools or roads.
        People in this country are either dumb or willing to die on some winning hill. Miners for example are the most baffling people. They want jobs (that don’t exist) but voted for someone that will strip their healthcare so they can die from black lung. I don’t get it

      • Becky says:

        Yep, I think it’s mainly that people are misinformed, and only when Americans go to other countries and see how much better (or worse) that healthcare systems are do they realise the expense and inefficiency in the US.

      • Mia4s says:

        Oh I forgot about the good old, “it’s socialist so it’s evil” American BS. Lovely. 🙄 America needs to fix its public education system; too many citizens who are frightened of words they don’t understand.

        It’s great that America is finally making some strides in providing wider healthcare (as a Canadian the idea that a parent would have to worry about paying for an operation like the one little Billy had repulses and disgusts me.)

      • Otaku Fairy says:

        All of this.

    • Amanda DG says:

      I totally agree. No one should profit from another’s pain and suffering.

      • Lucy says:

        Amanda, how do you suppose innovation will occur if you ban profiteering?

        I would also remind you that you are free to set up a non profit insurance company/lab/hospital etc.

    • Lucy says:

      Most countries that have good healthcare do not have universal healthcare systems. They have single payer system at a local level or else mandatory, highly competitive insurance nationally. Countries with universal healthcare systems usually have a bloated inefficient, underfunded system that leaves lots of people without necessary care. It destroys competition which means healthcare providers can charge extortionate prices which government will often refuse to pay. There are lots of very good arguments against universal healthcare, it does not mean people who are against it are stupid, seek to see people die, or are afraid of socialism because they think it is evil.

      • Kiwi says:

        Um I have lived in two countries with good public healthcare systems – the U.K and New Zealand. In London I didn’t pay a cent for healthcare. In New Zealand I pay a certain amount when I visit the doctor, but if I was on a low income it would be free. It’s also completely free for children under 13 regardless of family income.

        I also have private insurance and can elect to skip public waiting lists for specialist care by utilising that, but if I didn’t I could be referred through the public system & I’d end up seeing probably the same specialist that I would have under my private cover.

        Both systems are vastly preferable to the joke that is the American regime. A system that lets babies die when a life saving procedure is available is barbaric.

  3. Mgsota says:

    His story really hits home with me. My daughter was around 24 hours old when a nurse thought she looked a little blue. She had D Transposition of the arteries and had heart surgery at 5 days old. That was 15 years ago! But I remember every detail of that week like it was yesterday. Most terrifying and stressful time of my life. Glad Billy is going to be okay!

    • CommentingBunny says:

      So glad your story has a happy ending. Hugs.

    • Dhavynia says:

      I can relate as well, my son was also born with a CHD that was detected when I was pregnant and confirmed when he was born. He had open heart surgery a month before his 3rd birthday to correct his issue and although he will need to visit a cardiologist the rest of his life, he’s never had to take medication so far. Knowing the hurdles I went through and still do because he’s also autistic, i cannot even imagine how I would be if this was done when he was an infant.
      His surgery was in 2014 and I am still getting bills for it. I have insurance through my employer and IT DOES NOT AND DOES NOT HAVE TO have to provide coverage for autism related therapies such as ABA and speech. It is amazing of all the things you get to find out when you’re fighting for a coverage such as Speech and someone on the other end tells you it’s not the insurance company responsibility to provide the help but the school system. One of my biggest WTF? Moments considering he was a toddler at the time

    • Lightpurple says:

      Glad these two children have pulled through.

  4. Lee says:

    Thanks God the baby boy is well now!

  5. Rapunzel says:

    All the feels. Bless Jimmy for this heartfelt plea for the suffering.

    Sadly, there are still A-holes who don’t get it. Like Joe Walsh, former Illinois rep, who tweeted that we still shouldn’t have to pay for Kimmel’s kid. Or Alabama senator Mo Brooks, who basically said “good people” live right and don’t need preexisting conditions benefits.

    Jimmy’s story makes me cry, but some of the responses are making me rage.

    • Lightpurple says:

      Brooks is on my call list for today. I want to know what he thinks I did to deserve breast cancer and life-long side effects from the treatment.

      Joe Walsh doesn’t even support his own kids.

      • SusanneToo says:

        Good luck, but I assure you that none of the Alabama politicians give a damn about “the people” unless they’re wealthy donors. They’re all sh1t.

      • Esmom says:

        Yeah, Joe Walsh is among the worst of the garbage humans in the GOP. Just a heartless piece of s^it. And depressingly he has people, a couple of whom (parents, no less!) I am in fact acquainted with, who fawn over him.

      • Lightpurple says:

        Brooks’s Washington office has a message saying the office is closed today. What a coward. I left messages at two of his district offices where the boxes weren’t full yet.

    • Maria F. says:

      i believe in karma and not wishing bad things on people, so they do not come back haunt me, but boy, I really hope that Mo Brooks will not have to suffer through some kind of illness with his loved ones and eat his god damn words.

    • Beth says:

      Yesterday I read mean,nasty comments on Daily Mail from lots of assholes about Jimmy’s situation. Àll of them were Trump supporters who were proving how thoughtless and cold hearted they were

    • Zan says:

      I will never forget when I was pregnant with my second, after our ultrasound, a doc called and left a message on my answering machine (!) saying they thought they saw abnormalities. We went through weeks of worry, stress and finally more tests and found out all was well.
      But just after finding out, we went to a christening type ceremony for our friends’ baby and the clergyman gave a similar speech as the idiot politician from Alabama–saying that people who are truly faithful and live right don’t get sick and neither do their kids. It took all my strength not to scream at him in the middle of his speech. I felt ill thinking about the shame and guilt statements like that put on children, parents and anyone else. That is truly some sick and stupid shit.

    • Insomniac says:

      I bet they’re “pro-life” too. Right?

  6. detritus says:

    I’m glad Kimmel has the bravery to speak about this. So glad little Jimmy is recovering, and that there are great nurses who catch that.

    Is this post to serious to talk about the fact that Hecate has a book?

    • Esmom says:

      I want to know more about Hecate’s book, too! I had no idea.

      • detritus says:

        and it involves children’s health care? what happened that the pediatrician was so involved? my interest is piqued
        i would try to google ‘books by hecate’ but i’m thinking it wouldn’t be the most informative haha

  7. Lightpurple says:

    Yesterday, I emailed the Kimmel clip to every Republican member of the House of Representatives. I think I sent it to Ryan about a dozen times. And each mention of it I saw on Twitter, I retweeted to Ryan and Trump.

    I wish little Billy and the Kimmel family well. And all children who suffer from such problems. We need to make it crystal clear to our government that we want children like Billy to get the healthcare they need. Not just when they are children but when they grow to adulthood and go out into the world where they should not be denied healthcare because of pre-existing conditions.

    • Nona says:

      You’re an inspiration, Lightpurple. I just sent the clip to my Republican congressperson, as well as my Republican senator.

    • Annetommy says:

      Brilliant. As per the tweet in the intro; I believe Spicer did not stay for any press questions yesterday, so no chance of raising this. Or Andrew Jackson and the he Civil War. Or all the other trump nonsense that’s a daily stream of sewage.

  8. Scal says:

    Some of the comments on right wing media on this story make me sick-‘he’s politicking his newborn son for the liberal agenda’ argh. As if sick and dying children are a liberal issue. It’s gross.

    But keep in mind if you read the GOP plan-they don’t care about this stuff unless you work for congress or have money.

    • Rapunzel says:

      There are some people who just didn’t even listen to what Kimmel said. This went viral and resonated with so many that I think it scares the right, which never wants to face how heartless it is as a party.

    • Anna says:

      Yes, sick and dying children are a liberal issue, because the GOP seems determined not to provide them with any care or even acknowledgment.
      (I understand your comment, however. I do not intend my response to be an attack on you.)

      • NeoCleo says:

        They only seem to be an “issue” for Republicans when they are still in the womb. Afterwards? Not really.

  9. Lucy says:

    Ugh. I can’t even imagine what it must have been like, and I don’t want to either. Glad little Billy is okay now. All the best for Jimmy and his family.

  10. Nibbi says:

    JImmy Kimmel has grown on me 1000% with this. People like him, and the people responding positively to this story, are what give me hope for America.

  11. CommentingBunny says:

    I don’t understand how a country that considers itself the greatest in the world doesn’t prioritize the health of its people. It’s barbaric not to.

    I’m Canadian, and our system is faaaar from perfect. But I have never had to fear that my kids would die because I didn’t make enough money.

    • noodle says:

      definitely agree. our youngest son has a genetic skin condition and 24hr after he was born we ended up in Sick Kids. he was covered in huge blisters literally from head to toe. I was scared to touch him. they thought it was scalded skin syndrome but ended up being worse diagnosis (EHK) but still a lot better than it could be (Jonathan Pitre with EB being an example of the worst). we did not have to pay a single penny for the whole ordeal and for that I am so grateful because we have no extended family, single family income, 2 more kids and husband with type 1 DB. our health care is not perfect but I don’t have to lose sleep over medical expenses.
      sending healing vibes to Billy and family!

    • Asiyah says:

      My husband was born in Iran with a preexisting heart condition. After fainting so much his father decided to leave for a place that had better medical care. They settled in Australia, where doctors quickly saved his life with heart surgery. He’s here today because Australia has universal health insurance. And that’s why I ultimately decided that we will live in Australia instead of where I grew up, the USA. I love NYC but I don’t want my kids to grow up the way I did: uninsured. And when I finally did get insurance it had such a high deductible that I’m in minor debt because I had to have fibroids removed. I hope my visa to Australia gets approved because I want our kids to have what I didn’t.

      • Ange says:

        I’m so glad your husband is ok and I hope you can make it here. Our healthcare can have its issues but I will take it every day over what America has. I had to have knee surgery towards the end of last year including doctor and specialist visits, MRI’s, hospital admission and the resulting surgery and it cost me $80, half of one specialist visit (which could have been free if I’d wanted to wait to get in but I was moving shortly and needed to get it done). It also only took about 5 weeks from first doctor visit to the surgery. Afterwards if I’d not relocated I could have had free physio through the hospital for as long as needed, but I’ve had knee surgery before and just did the rehab myself. I honestly don’t know how anyone can have an issue with that kind of healthcare.

  12. adastraperaspera says:

    He made a powerful statement. So glad his baby got help in time. Watching it, I felt such a longing for men to show more sentiment and feeling publicly. A cruel militarism and harsh tone has overtaken our public discourse to such a vicious extent that Jimmy’s sincere outpouring of love for his child and his compassion for other children was in such stark relief that it went viral.

  13. Beth says:

    I saw this on CNN yesterday morning and I had tears running down my face.What a great sweet thing he did by telling the story and trying to get people to see how important it is that we all need health care. Best wishes to his family and anyone else going through something like this

  14. t.fanty says:

    A friend’s baby had an identical problem. It is SO very easy to miss and moves from a heart murmur to death in a flash. God bless the nurses who catch these tiny irregularities. The mum and I share a doctor and he cried when he was talking to me about how he didn’t notice it.

    It really is just that simple. Pay medical professionals properly – and do whatever is possible to make health a non-profit industry. The bottom line is literally killing us.

  15. EscapedConvent says:

    Everyone has said how I feel better than I can at the moment. The thought of this sweet, tiny baby having surgery is heart-wrenching. Bravo to Jimmy Kimmel for underlining how deadly serious it is to turn our backs on “pre-existing conditions.”

    The ignorance and cold-heartedness of people like Joe Walsh and Mo Brooks is staggering. Where is their decency and compassion?

  16. Jessica says:

    I knew Molly in one of my former lives. She’s great so I assume that her husband is, too. I am so happy for their baby and happy that Jimmy is speaking out about health care.

  17. Insomniac says:

    I never liked Jimmy Kimmel, but damn – I was ugly crying watching this yesterday. So glad for him and his family that that baby is going to be OK.

    And it says so much that’s not good about this country that “I want all children to have access to life-saving surgery just like mine did” is now a controversial statement. When is this craziness going to end?

  18. CdnInAmerica says:

    I moved to the States from Canada in December, and I have to tell you, until then, I never thought so much about my health. It really is catastrophic that there is no universal healthcare.

    I tried getting birth control. I’m able to pay for it myself. The first clinic I went to, I was turned away because of someone’s “beliefs” and told to come back when a different NP is on site. The second clinic saw me, but she refused to give me a prescription because she wanted me to get a full physical by a doctor first. I’m young and healthy and no history of anything in my family that would cause them to be concerned over a simple pill. A full physical with a doctor?

    I ended up texting the nurse I saw in Canada and she sent me my pills after I got my blood pressure checked at one of the machines at the drug store and sent her a picture of the results.

    I’m mindful when driving, when crossing the street, when cutting fruit and vegetables that any sort of small or big accident could potentially lose us our house and the life we built.

    We might not have the biggest army or the best standing on the world stage and people might not cower in fear when they think of Canada, but we got healthcare right. And the refugee crisis.

    This health care crisis in the US needs to be fixed. Sooner, rather than later. Kimmel is right, it’s not a democrat or a republican issue, it’s a citizen issue and we should all be on the same side.

    PS: When we retire my fiance promised me we will move to Canada (he’s American), specifically because of the healthcare system.

  19. OhDear says:

    Wow, I’m glad his son is ok, and good on him for speaking out about the need for affordable health care.

  20. Miss M says:

    I cried watching the video. Thanks Jimmy Kimmel for sharing it. Thanks for writing the story, Hecate!
    Confrat to the family on the new addition. Go Billy!

  21. courtney says:

    not to be a negative person but congenital heart defects aren’t as rare as some of you seem to think a younger cousin of mine was born with similar issues and has had several surgeries because of it but still plays sports and now works at Logan international airport as a matenance person for the planes I believe for Delta airlines which has a hub at Logan. oh please if a parent works and pays for good healthcare coverage through their job a child can’t be denied due to a preexisting condition because that part of Jimmy’s health care is paid by SAG because he’s on TV 5 nights a week 48 weeks out of the year. it’s like a disabled child in school being denied reduced price/free breakfast and lunch because their parents work and make more than 26 k a year My dad made that in the late 1970’s when he was a waiter/delivery boy in a restaurant

    • mar_time says:

      I always love Jimmy and they film down the street from my office, I should go visit the audience soon…. anyway, he’s not saying he couldn’t afford to help his son, he’s saying that his son’s heart condition would deprive other people (babies and adults) from certain coverage because it’s a “preexisting condition.” That shouldn’t be the case, we shouldn’t live in fear of medical bills because having a health issue is concern enough…I really hope we can come to a point where we progress as a country because it’s very enraging right now

    • Lightpurple says:

      Actually, Courtney, prior to the ACA, yes, the whole family could be thrown off the parent’s insurance if one of them was generating high costs OR the insurance could cap payments, meaning no more coverage for that person. Trumpcare will take us back to those days.

    • susanne says:

      Not sure where you are getting your ideas, but prior to ACA, preexisting conditions could exempt a person from getting affordable health care.
      I’m not getting your statement about the frequency of heart defects. If anything, this is a case For coverage for all, regardless of medical history.
      Do you believe that people who are unemployed or underemployed should not receive health care?
      No parent should ever watch their child die needlessly.

  22. Asiyah says:

    “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 that whether you’re a Republican or a Democrat or something else, we all agree on that, right?”

    Sadly, that isn’t the case. There really are people out there who believe some people have to or should die. Anybody perceived as being “leeches” or “taking up resources” by these people are thought to be dispensable and unworthy of our help, empathy, sympathy, and compassion. That is a cruel reality and tough pill to swallow unfortunately.

  23. Rachel says:

    I would love to be a friend of Jimmy Kimmel. He seems to have such a kind spirit and genuine love of life. I wish his family the best.

  24. K says:

    I worry about this kind of stuff. I have 5 kids total and my 2 year old was born with multiple rare medical issues and diseases. I cant even begin to count the times we have stayed at hospitals and dr visits. We are facing a new issue that will require brain surgery with removing a piece of the back of his skull. i am utterly terrified. I am fighting with insurance now to take him out of state to a specialist in his rare disease and one who does these type of surgeries weekly. The fight is not going too well. They see it as there are plenty of neurosurgeons in my state and there is no reason why he would have to go out of state. Its so damn aggravating!!

  25. spidey says:

    As a Brit who has had a gastroscopy, biopsies and several ECGs and a heart monitor all for free on the NHS in the last 4 months I can’t believe a country as rich as America does not have an NHS.

    • Ange says:

      There seems to be a lot of weird Christian moral virtue attached to health over there as well. Like, if you get sick it’s because you aren’t living your best life so you deserve it. Almost like genetics and goodness knows what else don’t exist.

  26. lightpurple says:

    Not why I watch late night shows. Save your sob stories for an Oprah special. Talk to guests and make jokes.

    • Lou says:

      So change the channel, LightPurple. The rest of us, who have a thing called empathy, appreciated Jimmy sharing his story and raising awareness of the condition and of the work these amazing hospitals do.