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Jimmy Kimmel tears up recounting newborn son's open-heart surgery

A tearful Jimmy Kimmel turned his show's monologue into an emotional recounting of his newborn son's open-heart surgery -- and a plea that all American families get the life-saving medical care they need. (Credit: "Jimmy Kimmel Live")

In the wake of Jimmy Kimmel’s heartfelt monologue Monday about his newborn son’s averted health crisis and the need for health insurance, the talk-show host’s wife retweeted a supportive message from former President Barack Obama.

“Someone is angling to be Billy’s godfather,” Molly McNearney joked Tuesday as she retweeted Obama’s message reading, “Well said, Jimmy. That’s exactly why we fought so hard for the ACA, and why we need to protect it for kids like Billy. And congratulations!”

Hours earlier, McNearney, co-head writer on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” tweeted a photo of her smiling husband leaning into a crib and cupping the swaddled newborn’s head. “I am thankful to love and be loved by these two brave guys. Both criers,” she wrote.

An emotional Kimmel, 49, on Monday revealed that the couple’s second child, William John Kimmel, had been born April 21 with a birth defect. “He appeared to be a normal, healthy baby until about three hours after he was born … when a very attentive nurse at Cedars-Sinai hospital … was checking him out and heard a murmur in his heart — which is common with newborn babies, but she also noticed he was a bit purple, which is not common.”

Pediatric cardiologist Dr. Evan Zahn soon determined Billy suffered from tetralogy of Fallot with pulmonary atresia. “Basically the pulmonary valve was completely blocked, and he has a hole in the wall between the left and right sides of his heart,” Kimmel told his audience. The newborn was taken to Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, where cardiac surgeon Dr. Vaughn Starnes performed a successful operation. “It was the longest three hours of my life,” Kimmel said.

He added, “Until a few years ago, millions and millions of us had no access to health insurance at all. Before 2014” and the Affordable Care Act aka Obamacare, “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.”

In a monologue delivered with a quavering voice, Kimmel openly wept as he concluded, “No parent should ever have to decide if they can afford to save their child’s life. It just shouldn’t happen. Not here.”

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