What Jimmy Kimmel's Son Shares in Common With These Iraqi Kids

“If your baby is going to die and doesn’t have to, it shouldn’t matter how much money you make.”

In a tearful monologue Monday night, late show host Jimmy Kimmel revealed that his son was born with a life-threatening heart defect last week—the same defect we see in many of the kids we care for here in Iraq.

Kimmel described the crippling fear any parent feels when it's their child's doctor who says, “There's something wrong with his heart.

Except in this case, it wasn’t just one thing. It was four.

Kimmel’s son was diagnosed with a condition called Tetralogy of Fallot—a rare combination of four defects that keep the heart from pumping enough blood to the lungs, so it can deliver oxygen to the rest of the body. Children with this defect often have blue-tinged skin, because their blood is starved of oxygen.

Without treatment, kids with Tetralogy of Fallot have a 1-in-2 chance of dying before their third birthday.  

We know. We’ve seen it before.

But we’ve also seen what can happen when you show up for children with this defect. Many of the kids whose lives you’ve helped save in Iraq and Libya were born with the same condition as Kimmel’s son.  

There's Yossef, who couldn't get the care he needed in Iraq because his heart defect was deemed too complex. His parents didn't have enough money to fly him out of the country to get an operation to mend his heart. Baby Yossef's condition might as well have been a death sentence.

Then his parents heard that you were sending a team of doctors to their hospital to perform the kind of surgery Yossef needed—and to train local medical teams to do the same for years to come.

You made that happen, at a time when Yossef had run out of other options. He’s not the only one, either. Here are some of the kids who suffered the same condition as Jimmy Kimmel’s newborn son—and who got mended hearts, thanks to you and with the help of our friends at Novick Cardiac Alliance…

“No parent should ever have to decide if they can afford to save their child’s life,” Kimmel said near the end of his monologue last night. “It just shouldn’t happen. Not here.”

While Kimmel was thinking about kids in the U.S., the same sentiment rings true here in Iraq, too. No child should die because they can’t get the care they need—especially for a treatable heart defect like Tetralogy of Fallot.

Thank you for seeing that. Thank you for seeing the children of Iraq, Libya, and other war-torn countries where kids with life-threatening heart defects have no other way of getting the care they need, if not for you.

We’re so thankful that Jimmy Kimmel’s son got a mended heart last week. And we’re thankful that, because of you, the same can be said for hundreds of kids just like him, here in the Middle East.


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About Ben Irwin

Husband, father, storyteller, children's book author, occasional marathon runner, and director of communications and PR for Preemptive Love Coalition

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What Jimmy Kimmel's Son Shares in Common With These Iraqi Kids
What Jimmy Kimmel's Son Shares in Common With These Iraqi Kids
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