Jimmy Kimmel reveals newborn son’s health condition
Jimmy Kimmel’s revelation of his newborn son’s heart defect and resulting open-heart surgery has brought additional awareness to congenital heart defects this week.
Congenital heart defects – problems with the heart’s structure that are present at birth – are the most common type of birth defect, affecting 8 in 1,000 U.S. newborns. Each year, more than 35,000 babies are born with congenital heart defects, according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.
There are many types of congenital heart defects, ranging from simple issues with no symptoms to complex defects with severe, life-threatening symptoms.
Kimmel’s son, William “Billy” Kimmel, was diagnosed with tetralogy of fallot and pulmonary atresia, a rare condition in which the pulmonary valve is blocked and a hole appears in the heart wall. He was just three days old when he underwent successful open heart surgery, Kimmel explained Monday in an emotional monologue on his show, “Jimmy Kimmel Live.” The video was the top trending video on YouTube Tuesday; Kimmel’s story – and his appeal to politicians to ensure access to health coverage is available to all with preexisting conditions – also was trending on Twitter.
Now recovering at home, the baby will need a second surgery in three months, Kimmel said, and another in his early teens but is expected to lead a normal life.
“More so than any other point in history, the future is bright today for children born with heart defects,” said Dr. Joseph Forbess, chief pediatric cardiovascular surgeon at Advocate Children’s Hospital and co-director of the Advocate Children’s Heart Institute. “Diagnosis and treatments have advanced and will continue to do so, resulting in better outcomes for even the tiniest and most fragile newborns.”
Dr. Forbess hopes that by Kimmel sharing his story, more people will become educated about congenital heart disease and the need for additional funding and research.
About the Author
Lisa Parro, health enews contributor, is manager of content strategy for Advocate Aurora Health. A former journalist, Lisa has been in health care public relations since 2008 and has a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University. She and her family live in Chicago’s western suburbs.