HASH(0xbe498c)

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

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

SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO, Calif. — Baseball Hall of Famer Rod Carew received a new heart and kidney from the late NFL player Konrad Reuland in what is believed to be the first such transplant involving pro athletes.

Carew underwent the procedure last December and met Reuland’s family in March after mutual friends connected Reuland’s death with news of Carew’s transplant on Dec. 16. Reuland had died four days earlier after a ruptured brain aneurysm at age 29.

Reuland attended middle school in Southern California with Carew’s children, and he met Carew when he was 11.

“The whole thing is just unbelievable,” Carew told American Heart Association News. “I’ve been given a second chance so I’m going to take advantage of it, and I’ve got another family.”

Reuland played for the New York Jets and Baltimore Ravens. He also spent time with the San Francisco 49ers and Indianapolis Colts, who released him last August.

The only details the Carew family received before the transplant were that the donor was “male, late 20s, local, exceptionally healthy.”

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

The two men’s blood type was the same, but the key factor was both were immune from Hepatitis B. No one ahead of Carew on the transplant list was immune.

Reuland’s parents, Ralf and Mary, and their youngest son Austin took turns listening through a stethoscope to Konrad’s heart beating inside Carew’s chest when they met the former baseball star and his wife Rhonda, according to the American Heart Association News.

“We are so thankful, so grateful, so there aren’t adequate words,” Rhonda Crew told the Reulands.

Last fall, Reuland was on a treadmill when he experienced a severe headache. The aneurysm, a ballooning in an artery in his brain, burst a few days later. He underwent surgery, but never woke from a coma and his brain activity stopped a few weeks later.

During the final hours Mary Reuland spent with her oldest child, she kept her right ear on his chest. Her final words to the representative of the organ procurement network were, “Make sure his heart goes to a really good person because Konrad was a really good person.”

Last April, Konrad Reuland was renewing his driver’s license in his parents’ home. He asked his mother whether he should become an organ donor. She’d signed up to do it, so he did, too.

Carew’s health issues began in September 2015 when he had a near-fatal heart attack while playing golf. He spent a year with a left ventricular assist device in his chest handling the work of his damaged heart.

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.

Carew went on the transplant waiting list the Friday before Thanksgiving and moved higher a few weeks later. He got the call that a match was found on Dec. 14. He received the heart and kidney two days later.

Heart disease has touched the Reulands, too. Mary lost her father and a 31-year-old brother to heart attacks; Ralf’s father has received a stent and battles atrial fibrillation.

Both families want to encourage more people to become organ donors. Carew’s family has long been signed up as organ donors in memory of his daughter, Michelle, who died of leukemia when she was unable to get a match for a bone marrow transplant.

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

The program’s name came from Carew’s jersey number. Because Konrad Reuland died at 29, the name carries added meaning.

The Associated Press

Just Posted

Parents call for change to health laws after Oak Bay teen’s death

Accidental overdose has Elliot Eurchuk’s parents seeking change to B.C Infants Act

LGBTQ advocates turn Victoria SOGI protest into dance party

Counter-protest outnumbers anti-SOGI activists on lawn of B.C. legislature

Tsawout hosts Saanich Peninsula community leaders at blanket ceremony

Reconciliation event meant to share the Indigenous exerience

WATCH:First responders score first, take inaugural Challenge Cup in Oak Bay

Ice hockey game raises funds for Cops for Cancer, encourages positive interaction with youth

Amazing Race Canada kicks off at Hatley Castle

Popular reality TV show will premiere later this year

UPDATED: 9 killed, 16 injured after van hits pedestrians in Toronto

Toronto police say nine people have died and 16 are injured

As Osoyoos Indian Band flourishes, so too does Okanagan’s wine tourism

Indigenous practices have driven growth of South Okanagan’s wine history and agricultural influence

Judith Guichon steps down as Lieutenant Governor of B.C.

Election decision didn’t make her best moments from the past six years

Vancouver to rake in $30 million in empty homes tax in first year

The tax is the first of its kind in Canada, and was intended to address the city’s near-zero vacancy rate

B.C.’s snowpack continues to increase, melting delayed

River Forecast Centre official says sudden melting further into the season could cause flooding

Another B.C. First Nation voices support for Kinder Morgan pipeline

Simpcw First Nation claims people living on one-third of pipeline route support the project

Scooter crash leaves Island man with critical injuries

RCMP said a truck was making a left-hand turn when it collided with the scooter travelling through the intersection

Prankster broadcasts fake nuclear threat in Winnipeg

The audio recording on Sunday warned of a nuclear attack against Canada and the United States

ICBC reform aims to slow rising car insurance costs

‘Pain and suffering’ payouts to be capped, major injury limit to double

Most Read