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 “T.J.’s ‘HEARTest’ Yard.”
Together with Levine Children’s Hospital at Carolinas Medical Center they made it happen. The HEARTest Yard initiative is a family service program administered in conjunction with Levine Children’s Hospital located in Charlotte, NC. This cutting-edge program 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.
This initiative will also assist families as they settle into their new lives as parents of children with congenital heart disease. The services will be deducted from a predetermined medical benefit to be used at the family’s discretion, and will act as an extension of the amazing care already offered at Levine Children’s Hospital. 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’s Hospital as their family runs “T.J.’s ‘HEARTest’ Yard.”