Published: Sun, April 16, 2017
Sport | By Cecil Buchanan

Late NFL player Konrad Reuland donated his heart to Rod Carew

Late NFL player Konrad Reuland donated his heart to Rod Carew

However, strict protocols ensured the donation process was anonymous.

"I told them when they came here, and I strongly believe this, that they are now a part of our family", Mary Reuland told the Los Angeles Times.

"We are so thankful, so grateful, so there aren't adequate words", Rhonda Carew told Reuland's family after the surgery, according to ESPN.

HollywoodLifers, are you blown away by this incredible story?

But her son was brain-dead at 29.

Konrad, who was 11 at the time, couldn't stop talking about it.

"'You know I met Rod Carew!'" Mary quoted her son as saying when he came home from school that day, relaying the tale to BaltimoreRavens.com about her son's excitement two decades earlier.

Reuland, a childhood friend of quarterback Mark Sanchez, went undrafted in 2011 after playing his college ball at Notre Dame and Stanford. Three days later, Reuland died, and Carew soon heard that he would be getting a new heart. He additionally invested energy with the San Francisco 49ers and Indianapolis Colts, who discharged him last August.

After years of being slowed by a torn knee ligament and foot surgery, Konrad was in the best shape of his life – a taut 6-foot-6, 270 pounds – while waiting for a team to call.

Two days after Thanksgiving, he was on a treadmill when he felt “a click” behind his left eye and a severe headache. He never woke from a coma, his brain activity ceasing about two weeks later.

Carew had a heart attack while at a golf course in September 2015.

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"Forever, I will take care of this one because I've been given a second chance, and God knows how I feel and what I'm going to do for him", Carew responded, according to the story. Fourteen months later, he was put on the heart transplant list. Hospital officials needed to find a match.

The cross-sport donation from Reuland to Carew may be freaky in itself, but the story gets weirder as it does more sentimental. Reuland and Carew were in no way strangers.

Mary was cooking dinner while Konrad was filling out a drivers license renewal form. He asked his mom whether he ought to end up plainly an organ giver. She said it was a personal choice, but added she was signed up to be a donor.

Clues appeared such as Carew's wife being told the donor had been a very healthy local male and had been in his late 20s. For one, the Reulands knew that a 71-year-old from Orange County had received the heart at Cedars-Sinai, and Carew's operation and age was widely reported by the media.

Timing and blood type worked out, too.

Coronary illness has touched the Reulands, as well.

Most of the time, people who receive organ transplants don't find out who the donor was.

The families plan to work together on an American Heart Association campaign, "Heart of 29", to raise awareness and prevention of heart disease.

As noted, Reuland was 29 when he died.

After all, Konrad Reuland gave us a beacon of what it means to be special in life and in death.

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