Jimmy Kimmel had an emotional monologue on Monday night. It really hit home for my entire family. He revealed the medical crisis that rocked his family shortly after the birth of his baby boy. In case you didn’t see it, he shared that an observant nurse noticed a heart murmur (that in itself isn’t always a big deal) but his son also had a purple tint to his skin. That set off a scary chain of events which led to open heart surgery on a newborn baby. Kimmel, while trying to hold back the tears, said that those 3 hours were the longest hours of his life. My parents know that feeling all too well.
Thirty five years ago, that was me. My parents were excited to be adding another baby to the family. I was born at the end of May. Everything was great. Until it wasn’t. My mom was alone in the hospital room. It was the middle of the night, when doctors came in and quickly explained that there was an emergency. Turns out, I was very sick with multiple heart conditions. I needed to have open heart surgery or I would die. My heart was working so hard that they could literally seeing it pounding from inside my chest. It all happened so fast and there was no time to process any of it. I was transferred to our local Children’s Hospital. At 7 days old, I had my first open heart surgery. Surgery was a scary time for everyone. Everyone hoped for a good outcome but nobody knew for sure how it would play out. They actually had to use the paddles multiple times. Luckily, l was a fighter and came out of surgery stronger than when I went in.
I was born that way and don’t know any difference. Having heart defects is just part of my reality. Now as a mom, stories like this make me even more emotional. Recently, my daughter’s pediatrician detected a heart murmur. We had to follow up with a cardiologist and do an echocardiogram. I’ve had had so many of those same tests done on myself and continue to have them done on a yearly basis. It seems so routine to me. But when it’s your baby, it changes. For me, it’s way easier to be the patient. As my daughter laid on the table in the dark room while the tech took pictures of her heart I just kept wondering how my parents did this and so much more. Luckily for me, my little one has an innocent murmur. No big deal. That’s not always the case though.
I went on to have two more open heart surgeries and most likely have more heart procedures in my future. I believe the same will be true for Billy. I can’t imagine the waiting gets a whole lot easier. Sitting in the waiting room just waiting and waiting and waiting has to be torturous. I imagine it feels pretty helpless to be sitting there while your loved one is in a sterile operating room with their chest cut wide open. Just wait and pray and try not to let your mind wander to the worst.
Thank you, Jimmy Kimmel for sharing your son’s story. Thank you for shedding light and bringing awareness to congenital heart defects. About 1 out of 100 kids will be born with a congenital heart defect. Some will be fairly minor and others will require life-saving surgery like me and Billy. Billy, from one heart baby to another, I wish you and your family all the best!
I am thankful to love and be loved by these two brave guys. Both criers. pic.twitter.com/NL0C3K3Q4E
— Molly McNearney (@mollymcnearney) May 2, 2017