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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The son of retired Carolina Panthers tight end Greg Olsen on Monday gave a touching thanks from his hospital bed to all those who have supported him during his heart transplant.
“Hi everybody,” 8-year-old TJ Olsen said in a 12-second video posted by his father on social media. “Thank you for thinking of me. Thank you for praying with me. We love you guys, bye.”
TJ got his new heart on Friday, eight days after going on the transplant list and two weeks after entering the hospital with his failing heart.
His father has given updates throughout the process, saying over the weekend doctors were able to close TJ’s chest and “all early signs have been positive.”
With each message the three-time Pro Bowl selection has provided pictures and personal insight on what TJ and his family have gone through, reminding constantly that TJ “is a fighter.”
“Today is a day of mixed emotions,” Olsen wrote Friday. “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 our little boy [to surgery], 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 was born in 2012 with a congenital heart defect that required four surgeries, including three open-heart procedures and the installation of a pacemaker.
On May 24, Olsen announced in a series of posts that TJ’s heart was “reaching its end” and that “ultimately could lead to a transplant.”
A few days later they began the search.
“TJ has a long road ahead of him, but today is a huge step forward,” Olsen wrote. “From the bottom of our hearts, thank you for the outpouring of support through the journey.”
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.
They have donated millions to that and to 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’s has been in the care of doctors at the facility since.
“We don’t know how long we will be within these hospital walls,” Olsen wrote in his initial post. “We do know that we are in full control of our attitudes and our outlook.”
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