Rod Carew's new heart, kidney came from late NFL player

Rod Carew

Rod Carew

The families plan to work together, especially on "Heart of 29", the campaign Carew started past year with the American Heart Association.

Take one look at Reuland, and one might not have been surprised to find out the 6-foot-5, 254-pounder had built a career as a journeyman tight end in the National Football League.

The families learned about their possible connection from their overlapping networks of friends; for instance, Devon Carew and Warren Reuland are Facebook friends.

"He gets in the vehicle, big eyes and everything - he's about 11, maybe 12, and he's saying, "Mom, mommy, I met Rod Carew today!"

"You know I met Rod Carew!'" Mary recalls him (Konrad) saying over and over again.

The Reulands were told the recipient was a 71-year-old man from Orange County.

The player's mother noted that when she was in the hospital listening to her stricken son's strong heart beating, she just couldn't bear the thought that it might stop. It was named after his jersey number with the Twins and Angels and helps encourage early screenings for improved heart health - it was also, coincidentally, the age Konrad was when he died.

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Mary Reuland told the Ravens that when he was only 11 years old Konrad came home from school gushing about having met Rod Carew. Konrad Reuland's death was hard to process for many, but the silver lining is that his heart was donated to baseball star Rod Carew.

Doctors found a subdural hematoma in Carew's brain last July, which caused hallucinations and kept him from being eligible for a transplant until November 18 of this year.

The Times story said that in the hours before Reuland was declared brain dead, his mother put her head on his chest and listened to his heart beat for hours.

That's the story of Konrad Reuland and Rod Carew, a tale of one professional athlete - who saw his life end way, way too soon - miraculously saving the life of another.

"As Mary listened, the edges of her mouth widened and her eyebrows jumped". Just over a year later his name was added to the list of people waiting for a heart transplant.

"That's how it was the whole rest of the day", Mary gushed about her late son.

Last fall, blood thinners he took as part of his protocol led to bleeding in his brain, making it more urgent for him to get a new heart. It was at this point, that Rod himself had to conclude that he would always be a part of the Reuland family, and always grateful that he was given a new lease on life. "It was really kind of cute", she told Baltimoreravens.com. "I've been given a second chance so I'm going to take advantage of it, and I've got another family". The Reulands were thankful that Konrad's heart went to such a great man.