Former Carolina Panthers tight end Greg Olsen has announced that his 8-year-old son, TJ, may need a heart transplant.
In a Twitter thread on Monday, Olsen revealed that TJ, who was born with congenital heart disease, has undergone three open heart surgeries since 2012. He also had a pacemaker surgically implanted.
“Unfortunately, it seems his heart is reaching its end,” Olsen, 36, wrote. “We are currently working through the process to determine our next steps, which could ultimately lead to a heart transplant.”
Olsen, an NFL analyst for Fox Sports, said he and his wife, Kara, do not know how long TJ will be in the hospital.
“We do know that we are in full control of our attitudes and our outlook,” Olsen revealed. “TJ has been a fighter since birth. We are going to get through this as family and be better off as a result of this experience.”
On Tuesday, Olsen shared an Instagram photo of TJ before he was wheeled into the operating room for a cardiac catheterization, a procedure which examines how well the heart is working.
“TJ was all smiles this am before his Heart Cath procedure. This will help the doctors get all the necessary data to allow him to be the best transplant candidate possible,” Olsen explained. “We are going to continue to share our story bc we know we aren’t alone in our journey.”
TJ was born with hypoplastic left heart syndrome, a birth defect in which the left side of the heart is severely underdeveloped.
The heart defect was detected during a routine ultrasound when Kara was 18 weeks pregnant with TJ and his twin sister, Talbot.
“At that moment, I just wanted to crawl into a cave and never come out because you never want anything to be wrong with your child — especially something as severe as what TJ was diagnosed with,” Kara recalled during an interview with FOX in 2014.
The Olsens established the HEARTest Yard initiative to support families of children with congenital heart disease. They also helped fund The HEARTest Yard Congenital Heart Center at Levine Children’s Hospital in Charlotte, North Carolina.