CHARLOTTE, N.C. — TJ Olsen needs a new heart.
TJ, 8, was born in 2012 with a congenital heart defect that required four surgeries, including three open heart procedures and the installation of a pacemaker.
He had been leading as normal of a childhood as possible, serving as a bat boy for his older brother’s 2019 Little League team that fell one win short of making the Cal Ripken Invitational World Series in Florida.
On Monday, Olsen announced in a series of tweets TJ’s heart was “reaching its end’’ and it “ultimately could lead to a transplant.’’
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
— Greg Olsen (@gregolsen88) May 24, 2021
Olsen and his wife, Kara, began the HEARTest Yard initiative shortly after the birth of TJ and his twin sister, Talbot, to raise money for less fortunate families going through crisis like theirs.
The three-time Pro Bowl selection has donated millions to foundation and the building of a 25,000-square foot facility at Levine Children’s Hospital in Charlotte known as the “HEARTest Yard Congenital Heart Center.’’ TJ is in the care of doctors at the facility.
“We don’t know how long we will be within these hospital walls,’’ Olsen wrote on Twitter. “We do know that we are in full control of our attitudes and our outlook. ‘’
Olsen made Charlotte his permanent home even after spending the last year of his career with the Seattle Seahawks. He told ESPN in 2019 how much joy he got out of doing things like coaching his son’s Little League team after years of dealing with TJ’s surgeries.
He called it arguably the best time of his life.
“I learned that the simplest things made me the happiest,’’ Olsen said. “On a Friday night when a lot of people wanted to do a million different things, I was taking the boys to practice, then meeting my wife and daughter and the other families for pizza down the street, sitting there and hanging out with the other families and my kids and wife.
“We didn’t need to do anything fancy or go on fancy trips. It was really a unique experience. I really enjoyed it.”
Now TJ is fighting for his life again, and Olsen is there fighting with him.
“TJ has been a fighter since birth,’’ Olsen wrote in thanking everyone for their prayers. “We are going to get through this as a family and be better off as a result of this experience.’’