Jimmy Kimmel’s Newborn Son Has a Heart Defect: Here’s How It’s Treated

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Jimmy Kimmel's Newborn Son Has a Heart Defect—Here’s How It’s TreatedThe late-night host Jimmy Kimmel’s baby was rushed into emergency surgery last week after he was diagnosed with tetralogy of Fallot with pulmonary atresia. The newborn underwent an emergency open-heart surgery a month ago after birth which Jimmy revealed in an emotional Jimmy Kimmel Live monologue. Baby William Billy Kimmel was only about three hours old when the nurse noticed he had a heart murmur and looked slightly discoloured. Doctors soon determined he had a congenital defect called Tetralogy of Fallot with pulmonary atresia which prevents the lungs from getting enough oxygen.

Kimmel assured his audience that the story had a happy ending but the comedian struggled through tears as he recounted the harrowing tale and shared a photo of his son hooked up to wires and machines. He said of his son’s cardiac surgeon, “He went in there with a scalpel and did some kind of magic that I couldn’t begin to explain. It was the longest three hours of my life.”

The surgery was a success but his son will need another procedure in a few months and a third one as a teenager. Luckily the prognosis for most patients with tetralpogy of Fallot is quite food. Let us now know a few things about how this common heart defect is treated in infants just a few days old.

Surgery success rates are excellent, even in newborns

A person’s heart is about the size of their fist so one only has to think tha size of a baby’s hands to appreciate the job of a pediatric cardiac surgeon. There are may technical challenges, but at high quality centers all over the world the vasy majority of children survive this procedure and have excellent outcomes.

Often the heart surgery on infants involves the smaller-scale instruments and materials and doctors use special glasses which magnify the tiny infant organs and blood vessels. Apart from surgeons, an entire care team is required to tend to the unique needs of the newborns most of whom are already sick. In case of a baby with tetralogy of Fallot, the surgeon closes the hole in the heart’s wall.

Several procedures are usually required

Depending on the severity of a child’s condition more procedures may be required as he or she gets older. Often more extensive surgeries are delayed until the child is  afew months old and their heart is larger and stronger. If the artificial valves or connectors are used in these surgeries, they’ll likely to replaced at least once more. This is because the materials won’t grow along the rest of the heart. This is one reason why doctors cautions against saying that the surgery can cure the congenital heart defects. Definitely, this can be treated and most patients living with these conditions do very well but they do need lifelong care.

Most babies grow up happy and healthy

Even when infants are operated shortly after birth, most of them are discharged from the hospital within a week or two. They will need follow-up appointments at least annually and should also be monitored closely for both physical and developmental complications. Sometimes, the neurological problems are linked to surgeries at very young ages.

Bottom line

All in all, children with this disease and their parents should be lot of optimistic about it. They can run around, they can be athletes and they can go to school. This is something the doctors see often and with advances in the modern medicine and surgery, it is something which can be taken care of. The patients who are infants with congenital heart disease can grow up fairly normal. The doctors don’t want the parents to think that their child will be so fragile that they have to live in a bubble. The goal of doctors is to have these children lead healthy and active lives.

You may also read:

What do we know about Heart Disease in Children?

How to Maintain a Healthy Heart

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