In the opening of last night’s episode of Jimmy Kimmel Live!, host Jimmy Kimmel took a detour from the usual late-night monologue jokes to tell a very personal story about his newborn son William. “I have a story to tell about something that happened to our family last week. I will try not to get emotional and before I get into it, know it has a happy ending,” he said, before launching into a tearful description of the harrowing experience of waiting for three hours as his son, less than a day old, underwent emergency surgery to correct a congenital heart defect.
Kimmel—who thanked each of the doctors and nurses who treated little Billy by name—showed pictures of the baby buried under a mountain of tubes and wires after the surgery, followed by a picture of him resting peacefully at home. “Poor kid, not only did he get a bad heart, he got my face,” he quipped, one of a handful of jokes he managed to squeeze out in between the tears.
But although his son will be okay, Kimmel, who was clearly profoundly shaken by the experience, took a moment to remind the audience that not all are so lucky. Weeping as he discussed narrowly averting Trump’s proposed $6 billion cut to the National Institutes of Health, he pointed out that, before denying insurance based on pre-existing conditions was banned in 2014, a congenital heart condition like his son’s could be a death sentence. It still is, for families who can’t afford health insurance.
“If your baby is going to die, and it doesn’t have to, it should not matter how much money you make. I think that’s something, whether you’re Republican or a Democrat … we all agree on that, right?” he said. “We need to make sure people who are supposed to represent us, people who are meeting about this right now in Washington, understand that very clearly.” He added, “I saw a lot of families there. And no parent should ever have to decide if they can afford to save their child’s life. It just shouldn’t happen. Not here.”
Kimmel will be out the rest of the week on paternity leave, with Will Arnett, Anthony Anderson, Kristen Bell, and David Spade filling in as guest hosts. You can donate to Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, the hospital that saved Kimmel’s son and countless other children, here.