Jimmy Kimmel and his wife Molly McNearney overcame a heart-wrenching few months when their baby son William “Billy” John underwent two heart surgeries.
Billy, now 11 months old, was born with congenital heart condition tetralogy of Fallot with pulmonary atresia, which his famous father first revealed during a tearful address in May when Kimmel, 50, announced that his youngest child had open heart surgery at 3 days old.
Reflecting on Billy’s health condition, the late-night host recently told Oprah Winfrey that he and McNearney had brief feelings of detachment.
“There were secrets we kept from each other that we revealed only after the second surgery. The biggest one was that, I think subconsciously, we didn’t want to get too close to the baby because we didn’t know what was going to happen,” Kimmel said in an interview for O, The Oprah Magazine‘s April issue.
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“I don’t know if that’s right or wrong or common or uncommon. But when I told her I was feeling that way, she said, ‘Oh I’m so happy you said that because I was feeling that way too, and I didn’t want to express it,’ ” the father of four recalled.
Kimmel and McNearney also share 3-year-old daughter, Jane. The 2018 Oscars host has two older children – Kevin and Katie – from a previous relationship.
In his tearful May monologue, Kimmel explained that his son’s “pulmonary valve was completely blocked and he has a hole in the wall between the left and right sides of his heart” when he was born. Billy had a second surgery at the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles in December at 7 months old.
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“He’s great,” Kimmel told Winfrey about the current status of his son’s heart condition. “He’ll have another surgery when he’s around 6 or 7 years old, but in the meantime, he’s doing great.”
In February, Kimmel got emotional again when his longtime friend Ellen DeGeneres surprised him with a gift for Billy and their entire family.
The Ellen DeGeneres Show host had one of the rooms in the Heart Institute at the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles named in honor of Billy. “Thank you very much,” Kimmel said after a picture of the plaque was revealed. “It means a lot to me.”
The April issue of O, The Oprah Magazine is on newsstands now.