T.J. Olsen has dealt with more health complications during his first 22 months than most adults will in their entire lives. The son of Panthers tight end Greg Olsen faces another big battle this week.

T.J., who was born with hypoplastic left heart syndrome, a severe congenital heart defect, will undergo his third and final open-heart surgery Monday. The first procedure was just two days after his birth, and the second was last summer. But even though those went well, his dad will likely have a few more sleepless nights.

“Any time you’re dealing with open-heart surgery on a child it’s obviously pretty delicate, and it’s scary,” Greg Olsen said.

Olsen will miss practice “until things kind of settle down,” but unless there are complications after T.J.’s surgery, he will play in the season opener.

Before the Panthers broke down their huddle at the end of Sunday’s practice, they knelt as a group and said a prayer for T.J. Then Greg Olsen went to be with his family on the eve of what they hope will be the final major step toward a healthy life for their youngest son.

“He’s been through two of them, and we’re kind of unfortunately getting used to this,” Olsen said. “But it’s the hand that he was dealt, and we’ll take it on like we have the last two, and just hope for as fast a recovery as he can.”

 - By Bill Voth,