It was the off-season in 2012 when the Olsen family received the surprise of a lifetime. In January, Kara and Greg found out they were unexpectedly expecting. Happiness filled their hearts, and in February they learned Kara was carrying not one, but two bundles of joy. They were ecstatic.
Soon they received news that rocked their family to the core. One of the babies would be perfectly healthy, while the other would be born with a severe congenital heart defect.
Kara and Greg faced all the emotion, challenges and decisions that are only known by parents of severely sick children. They instantly decided that they were going to give the baby the best chance at life, providing him access to the best doctors, state-of-the art treatment, techniques and technology. Because so much of their life revolves around football, they're calling this phase "HEARTest' Yard."
Since birth, T.J. has undergone two open-heart surgeries to repair a rare condition known as hypoplastic left heart syndrome. T.J. faces another surgery, hopefully the last one, at age 3.
Together, the Olsens along with Levine Children's Hospital at Carolinas Medical Center founded the HEARTest Yard initiative - a family service program that will provide families of babies affected by congenital heart disease with a multitude of services including in-home, private nursing care, physical therapy and speech therapy among other benefits.
The HEARTest Yard fund will provide this option to families at no charge, while incurring no additional expense to the hospital. The goal is to establish a program that will improve the interstage mortality rate, increase life expectancy and long term prognosis.
Greg and Kara have a lot to share about Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome and invite you to join them and Levine Children Hospital as their family runs "T.J.'s HEARTest' Yard. Help babies with congenital heart defects increase their life expectancy and quality of life by purchasing a HALVE A HEART shirt. A portion of the proceeds of this shirt go to help support programs from the HEARTest Yard and Receptions For Research.