When Carolina Panthers tight end Greg Olsen and his wife Kara learned their son T.J. would be born with a severe congenital heart defect – hypoplastic left heart syndrome (HLHS) – they faced all the emotion, challenges and decisions that are only known by parents of severely ill children. They instantly committed to giving their child the best chance at life, providing him access to the finest doctors, treatment and technology at Atrium Health’s Levine Children’s Hospital. Because so much of their life revolves around football, they decided to call this phase “The ‘HEARTest’ Yard.”
T.J. was born in October 2012 and underwent his first surgery just days after being born. Like many HLHS babies, he would face 2 more in his first three years of life. After going home from the hospital, the Olsen family soon discovered the need, as well as the benefit, of having in-home nursing care for their fragile son.
Extending Care beyond the Walls of Levine Children’s Hospital:
As a result of the Olsen Family’s experience, the Greg Olsen Foundation partnered with Atrium Health Foundation to establish The HEARTest Yard Fund. This initiative is a family service program administered in conjunction with Levine Children‘s Hospital, making the transition from the hospital to the home much easier for families of infants affected by congenital heart disease. One of its key focuses will be to prevent complications and re-admissions to the hospital between stages of recovery.
How does philanthropy and the HEARTest Yard Fund impact patient care at Levine Children’s Hospital?
- Improves the inter-stage mortality rate and increase life expectancy and long term prognosis for HLHS children (funds services that are necessary to ensure a successful transition from the hospital to home, which are often are not covered by insurance)
- Provides support for in-home, private nursing care, physical and speech therapy
- Provide services to families at no charge, while funding all related expenses incurred by the hospital
With philanthropic support, the Congenital Heart Program at Levine Children’s Hospital will be better able to support the transition of care, empowering parents as they work to keep these babies healthy and thriving in preparation for the next critical stage of surgery.
Quick Facts: Levine Children’s Hospital and the Congenital Heart Program
- Since opening in 2007, Levine Children’s Hospital has been ranked among the top in the country by U.S. News & World Report for its cardiology and cardiac surgery program.
- Housing the preeminent pediatric cardiac center in the region, the hospital provides a multidisciplinary team of board certified physicians, including the region’s only pediatric cardiac surgeons.
- This team, which has pioneered heart care for infants and children, treats a variety of conditions, such as hypoplastic left heart syndrome, heart failure, tetralogy of fallot, coarctation of the aorta, atrial septal defect, and pulmonary atresia.