TJ Olsen, the 8-year-old son of former NFL tight end Greg Olsen, is doing surprisingly well just three weeks after receiving a heart transplant.
Greg Olsen told the Charlotte Observer that TJ didn’t stay long in the hospital and is now in good shape.
“He’s doing good,” Olsen said. “He’s had an unbelievable recovery. He’s feeling good. He’s been home almost three weeks. He’s starting to get his strength back and to get a little more active. It’s been quite a journey.”
Olsen and his wife found out when she was pregnant with TJ that he would be born with hypoplastic left heart syndrome, a birth defect that affects normal blood flow through the heart. TJ had three open-heart surgeries before his third birthday but had been relatively healthy until recently taking a turn for the worse and needing the heart transplant.
“From the day TJ was born, we’ve always been willing to share our struggles,” Olsen said. “I just think it’s important for people to not only hear from you when you’re on top of the world, right? The reality and humanity of it is that a lot of people do have tough times. And I think sometimes people think they are the only ones going through tough times.
“So to share TJ’s story, that has connected us with so many other stories of hope and heartache throughout the country. That’s why we do it, to show people: ‘Hey, you’re not alone out there. There are a lot of people that are struggling. There’s a lot of people that are having hard times. But you can get through it, and TJ is a great example of that.’”
The Olsens do not know the identity of the heart donor, as strict confidentiality rules govern organ donations. Olsen suggested, however, that at some point TJ may be able to write a letter of thanks that would be delivered to the donor’s family.