SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO, Calif - Minnesota Twins Hall of Fame second baseman Rod Carew received a heart transplant last December. It was revealed Friday that his new heart came from a fellow professional athlete.
Konrad Reuland, a Baltimore Ravens tight end, died of a brain aneurysm on Dec. 12, 2016. He was 29. Four days later, Carew received a heart, kidney and new chance at life...thanks to Reuland. The connection, however, between these two families began much earlier than this.
Mary Reuland, Konrad’s mom, told the American Heart Association that her oldest son first met Carew when he was 11 or so attending a California middle school. Carew's children attended the same school.
“All he talked about for the rest of that day was, `I met Rod Carew!’” Mary said.
The moment that would forever bind the two, however, came about a year ago in the Reuland kitchen. Konrad was filling out a driver’s license renewal form when he asked his mom whether he should become an organ donor. She said it was a personal choice, but added she was signed up to be a donor. So he did too.
On March 2, Rod and his wife Rhonda met the Reuland family.
“You’re a part of our family now,” Mary Reuland, Konrad’s mom, told them.
“Yes,” Rod said. “Forever.”
In September 2015, the 71-year-old Carew suffered a near-fatal heart attack. Following complications, doctors determined he needed a new heart.
The American Heart Association believes this to be the first such transplant involving pro athletes.
Both families want to encourage more people to become organ donors and plan to work together on Carew's “Heart of 29” campaign which he started last year in partnership with the American Heart Association.