Vikings Star Has Open Heart Surgery After False Coronavirus Diagnosis Discovers Defect
"I’m feeling good and ready to start this journey back on to the field," Cameron Smith of the Minnesota Vikings wrote on social media following his operation
Linebacker Cameron Smith is on the mend following a successful operation to repair a heart abnormality that was discovered through coronavirus testing.
This week, the Minnesota Vikings player posted his first updates following his surgery to correct a congenital heart defect. The condition — a bicuspid aortic valve which caused his heart to enlarge — was found after Smith tested positive for coronavirus earlier this month.
"It is really a blessing that we found this as my heart is severely enlarged and wouldn’t have lasted much longer," Smith wrote on Instagram after the discovery. "The Lord works in mysterious ways, but I could really feel him on this one!"
The 23-year-old posted an update to social media on Tuesday that showed him giving a thumbs up to the camera while recuperating in a hospital room.
"Surgery was a success!" Smith wrote in the caption of the picture, which showed him hugging a plush model of a heart. "I’m feeling good and ready to start this journey back on to the field."
According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Smith will now spend 12 weeks recovering from the surgery and will sit out the 2020 NFL season, which will begin on Sept. 10.
"They were able to repair the heart, and he’s in good shape," Vikings coach Mike Zimmer told the Tribune of Smith.
"He’ll come to meetings, he’ll draw [play] cards, he’ll help with the scout team, anything,” he added. "We’re hopeful he comes back and he’s able to play football, but more importantly, he looks like he’s going to be great in health."
Smith has remained optimistic through his unexpected ordeal — on Wednesday morning, he posted an update to Instagram that showed him taking his first steps following the surgery. Though he walked slowly, he seemed to have no problem making it down a hospital hallway.
"Just focused on getting better everyday!" Smith wrote of the video.
"It did save my life," he told the Tribune. "It’s a blessing in disguise."
"I don’t feel any different right now," he told the newspaper earlier this month. "But I’m pretty excited to see what this change is going to feel like when I actually get a properly functioning heart."
RELATED VIDEO: Rob Gronkowski Is ‘Ready to Put a Show on’ When He Returns to the NFL This Season
According to Harvard Health, there are many factors in play when it comes to obtaining an accurate coronavirus test. For PCR tests — the kind where a swab is inserted into the nostril to gather a test sample — results could be affected by the condition the test was transported in to the laboratory. But results can also be affected by the timing of when the test was taken.
As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments. PEOPLE has partnered with GoFundMe to raise money for the COVID-19 Relief Fund, a GoFundMe.org fundraiser to support everything from frontline responders to families in need, as well as organizations helping communities. For more information or to donate, click here.