A tearful Jimmy Kimmel opened up during his show on Monday night about the emotional rollercoaster him and his family went through when his wife and co-writer, Molly McNearney, delivered a baby boy successfully last week, only for nurses and doctors to discover the child was born with a serious heart defect immediately afterward.
The talk show’s newborn son, William Kimmel, underwent a three-hour open heart surgery at three days old.
“It was the longest three hours of my life,” Kimmel said.
William, now 13-days-old, is doing fine after the surgery and being a perfectly normal baby. However, he will need another surgery when he is several months older and a third, this time non-invasive, procedure sometime in his early teens.
The talk show host who has two children from his first marriage and an older daughter with McNearney spoke about their gratitude towards everyone at California’s Cedars-Sinai Hospital, where Billy was born, and Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, where the surgery was performed. He also sent out his love to supportive friends in his trademark style.
“We had atheists praying for us,” the 49-year-old said. “Even that son of a bitch Matt Damon sent flowers.”
Kimmel took the context of his personal drama as the backdrop for a plea for a more inclusive health care system in the United States. He said his experience shows why all Americans need access to health care, especially those ― like his son ― born with preexisting conditions.
“No parent should ever have to decide if they can afford to save their child’s life,” he said while holding back tears. “It just shouldn’t happen. Not here.”
Check out the full video of Kimmel’s emotional but eloquent speech.