Jacob Kupferman, Getty
Eight years after being born with hypoplastic left heart syndrome, TJ Olsen is now looking towards a happy future and a healthy heart. The son of former NFL tight end Greg Olsen, who played for the Carolina Panthers, Chicago Bears and Seattle Seahawks, recently received a heart transplant, and was able to reach a milestone that he and his parents have long looked forward to.
On Wednesday, Greg Olsen shared a video of TJ ringing the bell at the Intensive Care Unit at Levine Children’s Hospital in Charlotte, North Carolina. TJ, who had been living with a congenital heart defect, recently received a successful heart transplant after the Olsen family shared in late May that he would need one.
“We are finally whole again and we couldn’t be more thankful!”, wrote Greg Olsen on Twitter. “Thank you all for the amazing support and prayers!”
After Greg Olsen shared the news that his son needed a heart transplant on May 24, a donor match was identified and TJ Olsen was admitted for a heart transplant on June 4, which he has since been recovering from.
While the Olsen family has been able to share their joy that their son has received a new heart, there is a somber underside to an otherwise happy story. In sharing news about his son’s transplant and recovery, Olsen has made a point to ask for prayers and sympathies for the donor family that lost their own child.
“Their selflessness during a tragic time gave our boy a chance at life,” wrote Olsen. “We don’t know who they are, but we will forever be grateful for every day we get to have with TJ.”
In order to help other children like TJ and their families, Greg Olsen and his wife Kara established The HEARTest Yard initiative, which offers a variety of support and services to families with children born with congenital heart disease at no cost to them. Last December, Atrium Health unveiled The HEARTest Yard Congenital Heart Center at Levine Children’s Hospital in Charlotte, a next-generation pediatric cardiovascular and congenital heart outpatient clinic.