Greg Olsen says son has had “unbelievable recovery” after heart transplant

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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.

27 responses to “Greg Olsen says son has had “unbelievable recovery” after heart transplant

  1. Love also needs to go to the family of the donor and the doctors that transplanted the heart

  2. Great to hear. I’m a Panthers fan and Greg was universally liked and respected around here during his time in Charlotte.

  3. The Olsens do not know the identity of the heart donor, as strict confidentiality rules govern organ donations.

    Any communication is done through the transplant program. wrote to my donor because I wanted them to know I didn’t damage my heart w drugs or alcohol. The widow of my donor wrote back telling me all kinds of wonderful things about the man whose heart I had received. My donor was killed in a fist fight w his own son over a paycheck. Two rough down south construction workers. When I got my new heart I was a single guy. Decade later I’m married w four kids. This kid has his whole life ahead of him now.

  4. Couldn’t imagine my child going through this. Just glad the little guy is doing well and Greg has the means to get him the care he needs.

  5. Best of luck to all involved. Can we please ban the 2 people that thumbed down ‘So glad for this little guy’. Amazes me how cruel and rude some people are…they’re names and phone numbers should be posted for all to see.

  6. I can’t imagine being in Greg’s shoes – it would probably break me in half

  7. Who knows, maybe in 12 years we will be talking about him being drafted! Glad to hear it.

  8. Super stoked for the Olsen family. My neice was born with the same thing now at the age of 8 she has a pacemaker to keep her pulse ox up to a healthy level to not need co2. I pray that u use some of that millions u made playing the game u love to help bring awareness to chd and to helping the funding of making a working 3d printed heart so these poor kids can all live a normal healthy life.

  9. supercharger says:
    June 29, 2021 at 7:41 am
    The Olsens do not know the identity of the heart donor, as strict confidentiality rules govern organ donations.

    I highly encourage everyone to be an organ donor. Frankly, you don’t need them when you are gone, and it can save someone’s life.

    My own father passed away suddenly at age 61, he was a year into retirement and I was 27 years old. At some point we all know we are going to deal with parents dieing, but losing my father unexpectedly before his time, when I was an age honestly not ready to deal with it eas crushing as a young man. It was devastating to us as a family as all the plans for the future with my mom were gone, and after having worked his whole life he didn’t get to enjoy retirement, he didn’t get to walk his daughter down the aisle, give a father of the groom speech, or meet his grand children.

    Unbeknownst to us, a few months before he passed, my father signed up to be an organ donor, and his organs were harvested. We got word a few weeks later that several of his organs were transplanted into recipients. His decision potentially prevented another family from having to deal with the same grief we were dealing with , and potentially allowed someone else not to have their life cut short.

    Franky, knowing that my father’s death helped others was one of the things that helped me and my family get through a very difficult time, and made dealing with the grief easier.

    In most states it only takes a few minutes to sign up online to be a donor. I encourage everyone to do it, and do it right now. Go from this page to the sign up site for your state.

  10. God bless this little man and his family. My son is 9 and he has a cousin who is also 9 but has already had about 10 surgeries and most have to do with his heart. I feel bad for them but at the same time am just so lucky and blessed to have my sons health. Appreciate what you have every single day. I remember when my little girl was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes and spending 1 week in the ICU and she had a roommate who was a young girl about the same age(6) who had a broken jaw in a few places and I specifically remember thinking I would change spots with that family in a heart beat because my daughter will be dealing with this for the rest of her life and that other girl will be back to normal in a month or 2. Well, one year later now and I’m so proud of my little girl and the way she’s taken this on and am just happy now and feel good about where she’s at. Anyway, I guess my point is just appreciate everything we have.

  11. Lol just checking the thumbs up/down and noticed someone just went through and gave all a thumbs down. Not even bothered by it, just wondering what puts someone in such a bad place in their life that they actually feel better going on a real-life situation article and giving everyone’s positive comments a thumbs down. You think you’re really getting at people, but in reality, the jokes on you, bud.

  12. I sincerely hope that letter is written. Somewhere there is someone who lost a child, and they need to hear something positive came out of a horrific tragedy.

  13. I wish the thumbs down had to share their name. What a sick world we live in. People think football is bigger than being alive.

  14. Not much news in the world can beat this.

    Organ donation is so critical. All the best to TJ and obviously the important who lost that heart.

    You’re all in my prayers.

  15. The family* that lost that heart, I meant above.

    I hope TJ can connect with that family one day so they can hear their loved one’s heart beat again.

  16. Excellent news! I can’t imagine the difficulty of transplanting a heart from one body to another in hopes of it working. Amazing

  17. That’s great news!! I hope the little guy continues to get better. My son had a heart transplant in 2004, so we are very familiar with what you go through waiting for an organ donor and thinking about the person who passed away and their family who donated his or her organ.
    The donor program is fabulous. We had our son 19 years longer than we were supposed to until he passed away last month.
    I only hope when I am gone I can donate to someone and help improve their life.

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