The Olsen family received big news Thursday night.
Former Carolina Panthers tight end Greg Olsen shared on social media that the family was informed that his 8-year old son, TJ, was a match for a heart transplant and would undergo surgery. TJ spent just eight days on the transplant list.
“Today is a day of mixed emotions. A day we have prayed for has arrived,” Olsen tweeted. “We were alerted last night that there was a donor match for TJ to receive his heart transplant. Walking our little boy, with tears of hope and fear in our eyes, was one of the toughest moments of our lives. We ask for everyone’s prayers for TJ and his amazing team of doctors and nurses. TJ has a long road ahead of him but today is a huge step forward. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you for the outpouring of support through this entire journey.”
During the day Friday, the surgery was completed and his doctors are pleased with how everything went, according to Olsen.
“TJ is finished with surgery and is being transferred to the ICU,” Olsen tweeted Friday evening. “We won’t be able to see him for a few more hours but his doctors are very happy with the surgery. TJ will be sedated for a few days but his road to recovery has begun.
“We also want to ask that everyone takes a second to pray for our donor family. Their selflessness during a tragic time gave our boy a chance at life. We don’t know who they are, but we will forever be grateful for everyday we get to have with Tj.”
Olsen has shared updates of the journey his son is on since he posted last month that a heart transplant may be a possibility.
TJ was born with a congenital heart defect, hypoplastic left heart syndrome (HLHS). He previously had three open-heart surgeries, including one just days after he was born, and has lived with a modified heart.
Greg and his wife, Kara, started The HEARTest Yard foundation in 2013 with the goal of supporting families of children with congenital heart disease in partnership with Levine Children’s Hospital. That grew to include The HEARTest Yard Congenital Heart Center, which opened in December 2020. The foundation donated $2.5 million for the Center.
An online fundraiser was started in honor of the family by Karin Giglio and her neighbor, Vanessa Smitz, who is a family friend of the Olsens. All proceeds from the shirt sales go to the HEARTest Yard foundation. More information can be found here.
The Duke Energy Center in uptown Charlotte and Bank of America Stadium lit up in green Friday night in honor of TJ.