When a celebrity speaks about his son’s near-to-death experience

I was on a vacation for the last 10 days. I’ve seen videos and articles of Jimmy Kimmel talk about his newborn son’s CHD, but I didn’t get to watch or read them during my vacation. I bookmarked it for later.

I’m back now & I watched the video today.

His son Billy was born with a CHD called Tetralogy of Fallot (TOF) with Pulmonary Atresia, and did undergo an open heart surgery when he was 3 days old. Along with his story, Kimmel plugged in his political view on the US health care system. I’ll ignore that bit. I’m here to talk about a parent talk about his child’s birth defect & the near-to-death experience that followed & the small-yet-big awareness it spreads.

Kimmel cried while explaining what happened. It’s not often that you see a comedian crying on a national television. If I say he was emotional, that’s injustice. ‘Emotional’ is an understatement. There was fear, pain & love in every word that he spoke. Fortunately, Billy’s surgery was successful and he’s a thriving little baby now.

When the pic of Billy with all wires & attachments on him in NICU showed up on screen, it must have scared the hell out of the audience. But, compared to what he must have gone through looking at his son that way for so many days, not knowing if he’ll come home alive, it’s just a drop in the ocean.

Kimmel is a celebrity. What he says will be heard, shared & spoken about. When popular people talk about CHDs or anything else that needs attention, the awareness it spreads is massive. I know of a few more celebrities/politicians who are parents of kids with CHD. I’m not saying they should open up as well, but if they do, with the current power of social media, that will help pave way to change including removal of societal stigma on defects.

Remember those few experienced parents & survivors struggling to reach out to the communities through their wear-red marches? They are not attention-seeking; they are seeking attention – the deserved attention to a big problem that’s not been talked about much. With one celebrity going public about his experience, 1000 more people must have Googled what a CHD is, and if at least 2 of them join those marches next year, that’s a win. Baby steps. For the babies in need.

CHD is the leading cause of birth-defect related death. Families of children with CHDs know it. Survivors know it. Doctors know it. There are a lot more people in the world who need to know as well. Hope more Kimmels come out & talk about it, leading to more awareness, leading to more research, leading to more funds, leading to many a tiny hearts spared!

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