Jimmy Kimmel's Tearful Birth Story of His Newborn Son's Heart Defect & Surgery by Donna John

More than nine million people have watched the touching video of Jimmy Kimmel telling the story of the birth of his son, Billy, who required open heart surgery three days after he was delivered. Kimmel explains that a "very attentive nurse" noticed a heart murmur, which is common in new babies, but also noticed Billy was "a bit purple." The story (thankfully, it has a happy ending) that touched millions has shined a spotlight on congenital heart defects. 

According to the American Heart Association (AHA), congenital heart defects are “structural problems arising from abnormal formation of the heart or major blood vessels.” With medical advances, today babies born with a heart defect have a better chance than ever of living a normal life. Here are some of the congenital heart defects that are recognized:

  • Aortic Valve Stenosis (AVS): A valve from that heart to the body does not properly open and close.
  • Atrial Septal Defect (ASD): A “hole” in the wall that separates the top two chambers of the heart.
  • Coarctation of the Aorta (CoA): A narrowing of the major artery – the aorta – that carries blood to the body. It can cause heart damage and high blood pressure.
  • Complete Atrioventricular Canal defect (CAVC): A large hole in the center of the heart that affects all four chambers.
  • Ebstein's Anomaly: A malformed heart valve that does not properly close to keep the blood flow moving in the right direction. Blood may leak back from the lower to upper chambers on the right side of the heart.
  • I-transposition of the great arteries: A heart in which the lower section is fully reversed.
  • Patent Ductus Arteriosis (PDA): An unclosed hole in the aorta.
  • Pulmonary Valve Stenosis: A thickened or fused heart valve that does not fully open. The pulmonary valve allows blood to flow out of the heart, into the pulmonary artery and then to the lungs.
  • Tetralogy of Fallot: A heart defect that features four problems – a hole between the lower chambers of the heart; an obstruction from the heart to the lungs; the aorta (blood vessel) lies over the hole in the lower chambers; and the muscle surrounding the lower right chamber becomes overly thickened.
  • Total Anomalous Pulmonary Venous Connection (TAPVC): A defect in the veins leading from the lungs to the heart.
  • Truncus Arteriosus: When a person has one large artery instead of two separate ones to carry blood to the lungs and body.
  • Ventricular Septal Defect (VSD): A hole in the wall separating the two lower chambers of the heart.

Learn more about congenital heart conditions via the American Heart Association here.

The video is longer than 30 seconds, but we felt it was important to share Jimmy's heartfelt story. (You can share your own birth story here.)

Elisa Schmitz
This is simply amazing. My heart goes out to Jimmy Kimmel and his wife for all they went through. As the mom of twin preemies, I know the fear that comes seeing a delivery room fill up with anxious doctors and medical providers. I am so glad their story had a happy ending, and I wish continued health for baby Billy! Thank you for sharing this very important information, Donna John !
Ann Marie Patitucci
What a touching story indeed. My heart goes out to all parents who face similar challenges- all the fear and worry and difficult decisions. I'm so glad this story had a happy ending. Let's hear it for the nurses and doctors!

join discussion

Please login to comment.

recommended tips

Placentas: 8 Amazing Facts About the Placenta That Expectant Parents Will Appreciate

Baby Is the Size of a What?? Tracking Fetal Development in Pregnancy Weeks 4 - 40

Pregnancy Weekly: Your Comprehensive Guide to Pregnancy From Week 1 to Week 40 and Beyond!