CHARLOTTE, N.C. — 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, is a match for a heart transplant. TJ spent 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."
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.
According to the foundation, the Duke Energy Center in uptown Charlotte will light up in lime green Friday in honor of TJ.(c)2021 The Charlotte Observer (Charlotte, N.C.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.