Greg Olsen announced on Monday his eight-year-old son, TJ, is hospitalized due to the heart problems he has had since his birth. The former NFL tight end revealed TJ may need a heart transplant as "his heart is reaching its end."
"This past week has been exceptionally challenging for our family," Olsen said in a Twitter post. "As many of you know, our son TJ has faced serious heart issues since birth. TJ has already undergone 3 open heart surgeries and has survived with a modified heart for his first 8 years of life. We don't know how long we will be within these hospital walls. We do know that we are in full control of our attitudes and our outlook. TJ has been a fighter since birth. We are going to get through this as a family and be better off as a result of this experience. Thanks for everyone's prayers."
TJ was born in October 2012 with his twin sister Talbot. Olsen and his wife Kara talked about TJ undergoing open-heart surgery right when he was born to Atrium Health. "I was completely heartbroken," Kara said. "There was no harder moment in my life – especially that first time at two days old – than having to hand him off to doctors and just hope and pray that he was in the best possible hands and getting the best possible care." When T.J. was discharged from his first open-heart surgery, they brought a nurse to come to live with them. That experience led to Olsen and Kara lunching the HEARTest Yard foundation.
"We can coordinate a package of care – of therapist and nursing care, during the day and at night," Olsen said when talking about the foundation. "The difference was we can tailor it for the families and their specific dynamics of home life and social life. Whatever the dynamics are within that family, we can be very sensitive to that as well. This two-prong approach of the care of the child and the social dynamic of the family – attacking it from both of those areas – has led to just incredible results." Olsen, 36, was drafted by the Chicago Bears in the first round in 2007. He spent four seasons with the Bears before spending another nine with the Carolina Panthers. Last year, Olsen played for the Seattle Seahawks and retired in January.