Retired NFL tight end Greg Olsen's 8-year-old son TJ is recovering in a North Carolina hospital after undergoing a heart transplant.
On Friday, June 4, the athlete and Fox Sports sportscaster announced on Instagram that a donor match was found. Olsen shared a photo of himself and wife Kara standing on either side of their son, one of their three children and a twin, and holding his hands as he sat grinning on a bed in a hallway at Levine Children's Hospital in Charlotte, North Carolina.
"Today is a day of mixed emotions. A day we have prayed for has arrived," he wrote. "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. The Olsen Family. #playfortj"
Hours later, Olsen shared an update. "To our generous angel donor, we don't know who you are or where you lived," he wrote. "But know that bc of your selflessness, our son TJ will have a chance at life. We pray your family finds peace and maybe one day our paths shall cross.
Olsen continued, "TJ still has a long road to recovery. We're anxious for him to wake up and tell him we love him. Today was a huge step forward for him and we're going to enjoy tonight while we have it."
The athlete, who played for the Chicago Bears, the Carolina Panthers and Seattle Seahawks before retiring earlier this year, and Kara welcomed TJ, whose full name is Trent Jerry, and his twin sister Talbot, who joined their eldest son Tate, now 10. TJ was born with hypoplastic left heart syndrome, a rare congenital heart condition in which the left side of the heart cannot properly pump blood to the body, and had undergone three surgeries since birth. In late May, he was hospitalized again and then placed on the heart transplant list.
"As many of you know, our son TJ has faced serious heart issues since birth," Olsen wrote on Instagram in May. "TJ has already undergone 3 open heart surgeries and has survived with a modified heart for his first 8 years. Unfortunately, it seems his heart is reaching its end. We are currently working through the process to determine our next steps, which ultimately could lead to a heart transplant."
He continued, "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."