Former NFL tight end Greg Olsen revealed his 8-year-old son was in need of a heart transplant.
Six days later, he revealed doctors found a match. On Friday, Olsen shared that his son TJ, who has battled heart issues since birth, was having heart transplant surgery.
The Panthers alum took to Instagram, where he has been documenting TJ’s health journey, and posted a photo of his son in a hospital bed. Olsen and his wife Kara each held TJ’s hands.
“Day 8: Today is a day of mixed emotions,” Olsen wrote. “A day we have prayed for has arrived. 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.”
On May 24, the 14-year NFL veteran first revealed his son’s heart was “reaching its end.”
“TJ has already undergone 3 open heart surgeries and has survived with a modified heart for his first 8 years,” he wrote on Instagram.
Despite that, the family was working with doctors to determine proper treatment.
“TJ has been a fighter since birth,” he continued, asking for prayers. “We are going to get through this as a family and be better off as a result of this experience.”
TJ’s heart issue forced him to miss his championship baseball game, Olsen said, as well as his First Holy Communion at St Gabriels church in Charlotte.
The community, however, rallied around him, with the Olsen’s community church holding a ceremony at Levine Children’s Hospital in Charlotte, where TJ is receiving treatment. His baseball team also sent him a group photo from the championship game, holding a sign that read, “We play for TJ.”
TJ has had plenty of support at home, as well. Greg and his wife, Kara, founded The HEARTest Yard foundation in 2013 to support families of children with congenital heart disease after the birth to TJ and twin sister Kara.
The 36-year-old three-time Pro-Bowler announced his retirement from the NFL in January 2021. He went on to become a commentator and studio analyst on Fox Sports.