April 21 is a significant day for Jimmy Kimmel. It’s the birthday of his youngest child, Billy Kimmel. It’s also a day that Jimmy, 54, reflects on the medical professionals who helped Billy and countless other children get a start in life. “Happy 5th birthday to our little nut,” the Jimmy Kimmel Live! host posted to his Instagram on Thursday, along with a photo of his son seated in front of a shortcake with a few candles. “We are eternally grateful to the brilliant doctors and nurses at @ChildrensLA & @CedarsSinai for saving Billy’s life and to those of you whose donations, prayers, and positive thoughts meant everything. Please support families who need medical care.”
Jimmy spoke about his son’s plight in his monologue during the May 1, 2017 episode. “Six pushes, he was out,” Jimmy said. “He appeared to be a healthy normal baby until about three hours after birth.” While at Cedars-Sinai Hospital, the nurses discovered that the baby had a heart murmur and was purple in color. Tests revealed that the young boy wasn’t getting enough oxygen in his blood, and ultimately, the doctors determined that there was an issue with Billy’s heart.
“It’s a terrifying thing,” Jimmy said while holding back tears, per CNN. “You know, my wife is back in the recovery room, she has no idea what’s going on, and I’m standing in the middle of a lot of worried-looking people – kind of like right now – who were trying to figure out what the problem is.” A sonogram showed that Billy was born with a heart condition in which a pulmonary valve was blocked entirely, and there was a hole in the wall between the left and right sides of the heart. Three days later, Billy underwent open-heart surgery and Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. “It was the longest three hours of my life,” said Jimmy.
Jimmy used this moment to lambast the state of healthcare in America. “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,” said Kimmel. “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 pre-existing condition. You were born with a pre-existing condition. And if your parents didn’t have medical insurance, you might not live long enough to even get denied because of a 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,” he said. “I think that’s something that, whether you’re a Republican or a Democrat or something else, we all agree on that, right?”