Late-night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel recently shared that his newborn son William (Billy) underwent open heart surgery when he was just three days old. The infant was born with the rare congenital heart condition tetralogy of Fallot with pulmonary atresia.
According to health.com, tetralogy of Fallot is a condition where the baby has low oxygen levels, causing the skin to develop a bluish tinge. The condition is caused by four issues (“tetra” means four): a hole between the two chambers of the heart, blocked pulmonary arteries which stop blood from flowing to the lungs, a displacement of the aorta (the large arteries that carry blood from the heart), and hypertrophy (when the heart becomes thickened because it has to work harder to pump blood into the lungs.
In addition to the tetralogy of Fallot, the infant also had pulmonary atresia, where the blood flow from the heart to the lungs becomes completely blocked. In situations like this, immediate surgery is required.
Thankfully, William’s heart surgery was a success. After spending the first six days of his life in the hospital, he’s now recovering at home, though he will need another operation in a few months’ time.
According to heavy.com, Kimmel took the opportunity to talk about his son’s diagnosis and surgery and pleaded with politicians not to cut spending on health services.
Congenital heart disease has been known to lead to pulmonary hypertension in later life. According to the uptodate.com, between 3 and 10% of people with CHD go on to develop pulmonary hypertension in adulthood.
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