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Last spring, Jimmy Kimmel announced the birth of his newborn son, William "Billy" Kimmel, and he revealed details of his son's congenital heart defect. The 49-year-old late-night talk show host explained Billy had undergone the first of at least two open-heart surgeries he will need in the next several years. The first operation was a success, and a subsequent surgery was supposed to take place this week. Unfortunately, the surgeons had to reschedule because Kimmel and his wife both had colds.
In a statement, a spokesperson for the Jimmy Kimmel Live host said Kimmel had taken a week off work to prepare for his son's second surgery. However, USA Today says the representative also revealed that doctors had decided to postpone the event as a precautionary measure because both Kimmel and his wife were ill, making an operation too big of a risk for an infant.
Back in May, Jimmy Kimmel gave an impassioned monologue to reveal details of his son's birth and heart problems. He said everything seemed okay after little Billy was born, but a nurse at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center noticed a murmur in his heart. Kimmel said he knew murmurs could be common in newborns; in fact, he said his daughter had experienced one that turned out not to be problematic. But the Cedars-Sinai nurse also noticed Billy was slightly purple. Kimmel said doctors and nurses swooped in and discovered Billy had pulmonary atresia and a condition called Tetralogy of Fallot (TOF), a congenital heart defect.
Apparently, TOF shows up in about one in every 2,500 babies; on the other hand, TOF with pulmonary atresia affects but a fraction of that population. What it means is Billy's heart had an obstructed pulmonary valve or artery, plus he had a hole between the left and right heart ventricles. Apparently, a fetus has a workaround of sorts as the placenta sends enough oxygen around the body through a blood vessel that lets blood pass by the lungs.
Once a baby is born, the situation becomes critical because the child needs blood and oxygen going to the lungs to support circulation. Thus, Vaughn Starnes, a distinguished pediatric cardiothoracic surgeon from Children's Hospital Los Angeles, rushed in to save Billy's life with immediate open-heart surgery. Everything went according to plan, and afterward, Jimmy Kimmel's wife, Molly McNeary, tweeted a photo of her husband and baby, who had a healthy color at that time thanks to the successful surgery.
Jimmy Kimmel said Billy would require a second procedure sometime before he turned six-months-old. The second surgery will restructure parts of the heart area to block oxygenated from passing through the hole between the chambers. Moreover, the operation will lessen the lungs' burden by reducing pressure. Furthermore, Billy will eventually need to go back in for a third surgery before he is a teenager. That third operation will involve a full valve replacement. In fact, Billy could require medical attention his entire life because such valves must be replaced every 10 to 15 years or so.
Thus, Jimmy Kimmel and Molly McNeary will be visiting the hospital with little Billy for years to come, but those visits might become less frequent over time, especially once Billy receives his second surgery and gets through the series of post-operative check-ups. It is not clear when Billy's second operation will take place, but hopefully, it happens sooner than later and goes without a hitch. We'll have the Kimmel family in our thoughts until we know more.