Written by Erin Dailey
Bailey Olson grew up in Colchester, Vermont, and is now a senior at Endicott College in Massachusetts where he is a wide receiver on the football team whose record stands at 7-0. However, it was not always an easy journey to get to where he is today.
Olson was born with a venous septum defect (VSD) in his heart. VSD is a birth defect of the heart where there is a hole in the wall that separates the two lower chambers of the heart. He had his first reconstructive surgery when he was just a few months old to fix the defect. When he was three, there was a blockage in his aorta, so he underwent another surgery to unclog that and put a stent in his heart. Olson endured a lengthy hospital stay at a young age to make sure he was okay and could move around on his own. Olson has fortunately been fine ever since.
The doctors warned Bailey to be careful growing up, but as a young and athletic boy, he did not let his heart defect stop him. Olson grew up playing baseball, lacrosse, basketball, football, soccer, and running high school track. He was just as active, maybe even more active than the other kids his age, but always kept his heart condition in the back of my mind. “All of my coaches knew about my condition growing up and always made sure to check up on me and make sure I was feeling okay,” Olson explains.
Olson takes stress tests and checks his levels to make sure everything looks good, but never sits out on any team conditioning or fitness tests nor does he wear any protective gear over his chest. It was a thought and discussion when he was younger to wear some sort of protective gear, but he decided against it. Olson does not feel there is any need to do anything different or less than his teammates, especially when his coaches always keep an extra eye on him to make sure he is feeling okay. He sees the cardiologist every other year to be safe and has not had any scares since. Although he does not have a special diet or is required to take any medication, it helps that he already has a healthy diet being a collegiate athlete. Staying active and healthy is pivotal in keeping a healthy heart.
“Something that I always believed in is that if you really wanted to do something, you can do it. I know that I had all these medical procedures done to me and every day I am reminded of that when I see my scar in the mirror. Playing college football was a goal I set for myself a long time ago, and something that I really wanted, so I set my mind to it from a young age,” said Olson. Olson is a perfect example of someone who never gave up and did not let anyone stop him from achieving his dreams.
Welcome to the American Heart Association, Northern New England region’s blog pages. Visit our ME, NH and VT blogs by clicking on your state and follow us on FB, TW and IG (Maine: @AHAMaine/New Hampshire: @NHHeartAssoc/Vermont: @VTHeartAssoc) for frequent updates on the latest news and events. Our mission is to be a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives. Join us!