Watching Jimmy Kimmel struggle through his opening monologue last night was heart-wrenching: It will change the way we see him forever. He shared that his son, William John Kimmel (“Billy”), was born two weeks ago with tetralogy of Fallot, a heart disease that affects about 20,000 newborns in the United States. But Kimmel turned his terrifying ordeal into an opportunity for all of us to reflect on the gratitude we feel toward our health care providers.[embedded content]
Here’s the long and short of it. Everything looked normal until about three hours in, a nurse noticed that Billy had a heart murmur and was bluish in color—murmurs aren’t unusual for newborns, but his bluish tint indicated he may not have been getting enough oxygen. Billy quickly received an echocardiogram, essentially a sonogram of the heart, which showed that he had tetralogy of Fallot, a combination of heart defects that affect blood and oxygen circulation. Kimmel and his wife decided to proceed with open heart surgery. “It was the longest three hours of my life,” Kimmel said, through tears. Billy will need another open heart surgery to close those holes in three to six months and likely another procedure in his early teens.
But this story is a happy one. “He peed on his mother today while she was changing his diaper; he’s doing all the things that he’s supposed to do,” Kimmel said. Thank goodness. Kimmel noted that Billy got the attention he needed because he has good health care and highlighted a few recent legislative transactions that are moving the needle in the right direction.
What really stood out to us, though, was his effusive show of gratitude. Kimmel started with the nurses and health care professionals who took great care of his son and were helpful in facilitating a swift procedure and speedy recovery, but he didn’t stop there. He individually thanked his friends, family, and colleagues for their show of support, making sure to name names throughout the monologue. “We had atheists praying for us,” he said. Making a public example of giving thanks to those who care for us in times of distress—our healers—is so important. Thank you, Jimmy Kimmel, and we’re wishing Billy a continued healthy, happy recovery!