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Jimmy Kimmel’s Son’s Pre-Existing Condition: Tetralogy of Fallot
Jimmy Kimmel, who hosts a late night show on ABC, gave an emotional account of his son Billy, born on April 21, who was discovered to have a disorder called tetralogy of Fallot, a congenital disorder where the wall that separates the two sides of the heart is missing. Kimmel said his son had surgery and is now home recovering.
Here’s a look at tetralogy of Fallot and pulmonary atresia, the other problem Kimmel said his son is suffering from.
The disorder is a rare condition, only about 5 children out of 10,000 are diagnosed with it each year. The disorder happens because of a structural problem with the heart, which is caused by a combination of four heart defects that are present at birth.
According to the Centers for Disease and Control, the defects are:
1. A hole in the wall between the two lower chamber – or ventricles – of the heart. This condition also is called a ventricular septal defect.
2. A narrowing of the pulmonary valve and main pulmonary artery. This condition also is called pulmonary stenosis.
3. The aortic valves, which opens to the aorta, is enlarged and seems to open from both ventricles, rather than from the left ventricle only.
4. The muscular wall of the lower right chamber of the heart (right ventricle) is thicker than normal. This also is called ventricular hypertrophy.
The structure of the heart is affected and the defects cause blood that is oxygen-poor – meaning it has gone through the body and is being pumped back to the heart for recirculation – to be incorrectly routed through the body. Oxygen-poor blood is usually moved to the lungs to be infused with oxygen then routed through the heart to the brain and other organs. Because the blood does not have enough oxygen, it leaves a baby’s skin with a blue tinge.
Surgery is needed soon after birth. During the surgery, doctors widen or replace the pulmonary valve and place a patch over the ventricular septal defect to close the hole between the two lower chambers of the heart.
Kimmel also mentioned pulmonary atresia which is a defect of the pulmonary valve. That valve controls the blood flow from the right lower chamber of the heart into the blood vessel that carries blood from the heart to the lungs. Pulmonary atresia means that no pulmonary valve ever formed in the baby’s heart. This was the main reason for the immediate surgery.
Little Billy will need three more surgeries and later, in his teens, another to replace the artificial pulmonary valve. Most children do well after the surgeries and lead normal lives.