Jimmy Kimmel: 'No Family Should Have To Make this Decision'
This week, Jimmy Kimmel raised awareness of an important issue: that no parent should ever have to decide if they can afford to save their child’s life.
05 May, 2017
In a moving monologue this week, American late night show host Jimmy Kimmel revealed his newborn son was born with a rare heart defect.
The comedian’s son, Billy, was born on 21 April. The hours after his birth were filled with joy as Jimmy and his wife introduced their baby boy to his big sister. It wasn’t until a nurse noticed Billy looked a little purple that the couple’s joy turned to terror. Concerned doctors swooped in. Billy was diagnosed with a congenital heart defect that required immediate, open-chest surgery.
The story has a happy ending. Thankfully, Billy’s surgery was successful and he went home just six days later.
But Jimmy knows a lot of families aren’t so lucky.
“I saw a lot of families there, and no parent should ever have to decide if they can afford to save their child’s life,” he said. “It just shouldn’t happen.
“If your baby is going to die, and it doesn’t have to, it shouldn’t matter how much money you make.”
Even in developed countries like the United States of America and Australia, the cost of treating a child diagnosed with a chronic or life-threatening illness can be overwhelming. Families spend their savings, set up fundraising pages, and increase their mortgages. They’d do anything to help their child get well again.
Parents living in poverty would do anything to help ease their child’s suffering, too. But their options are limited. There’s no medical insurance when you live in poverty. There’s no savings. There’s no safety net.
Billy’s story reminded us of Bintang, a little girl in our Child Sponsorship Program in Indonesia. Bintang was diagnosed with the same heart condition as Billy: Tetralogy of Fallot. The heart defect prevents the right amount of blood from being pumped into the lungs. If untreated, it can lead to heart failure and even death.
Bintang when she was first registered into our program.
Bintang lives in poverty in Indonesia. Her disease wasn’t diagnosed until she was six years old. By that stage, this little girl was always tired and her lips and nails would often turn blue. The paediatrician who examined Bintang told her parents to bring her back one year later for heart surgery.
They never made the appointment. They couldn’t afford it: the surgery fee would cost thousands of dollars. Bintang’s dad worked as a motorcycle taxi driver. Sometimes he only made A$33 a week.
“We were so sad and had no idea about [how we could afford] the surgery fee. Sometimes we still struggle to meet our daily needs, so to think about the fee, we were so confused,” said Olga, Bintang’s mum.
Their daughter’s condition remained untreated. They didn’t know it yet, but her heart condition had worsened: it was also beginning to affect her lungs and her growth.
But Bintang’s story had a different ending than so many others living in poverty. She was registered into our Child Sponsorship Program and generous supporters like you stepped up for her. You donated the thousands of dollars needed to cover the costs of her surgery and recovery.
Just before the operation, Bintang asked the surgeons for five minutes to pray. With simple faith, she said, “Lord Jesus, help to heal me. Amen.” She was ready. Her operation was a complete success.
Today, Bintang is healthy, recovered and living a normal life, free from unnecessary suffering.
Her father, Steven, can’t express his thanks enough. With tears in his eyes, he said, “We give thanks to the Lord Jesus for giving Bintang the chance to live and recover from her illness through the donor. We pray that the Lord will bless each donor for their kindness.”
It's heartbreaking that there are parents, right now, who are deciding whether they can afford to save their child’s life - or even to simply ease their suffering.
The good news is you can help.
You can give medical help to children living in poverty through Compassion’s Medical fund. When a child needs access to urgent medical treatment, a parent may have to decide between taking them to a hospital or feeding their family for a week.
Compassion’s Medical fund is a lifeline to children facing ongoing sickness, pain and even death. It supports children whose medical needs go beyond what sponsorship can cover. Whether it’s a critical illness, an accident or an infection, your gift will help stop the suffering of a child living in poverty.
You can give to help stop their suffering or learn more here.
Words by Zoe Noakes