Two professional athletes' lives are now forever intertwined in the most remarkable way.
Baseball star Rod Carew recently received a heart transplant from NFL player Konrad Reuland who died at age 29. Hall-of-famer Carew chose a baseball field - familiar ground - to share his story and the story of the professional athlete who saved him.
Carew hoped that through him, millions would be saved. "I promised that I would take care of Konrad's heart," said Carew.
A strong heart now beats inside Carew's chest. Austin Reuland, brother of NFL player Konrad Reuland, called it the Ferrari of hearts. "He was in tip-top shape. He was in his prime at 29 years old, you know," said Austin Reuland.
The heart and kidney transplant took place at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in mid-December.
The Carews and the Reulands knew each other because the Carews' kids went to middle school with the Reulands.
Carew's wife Rhonda had no idea Reuland had suffered an aneurysm. "I still really am having a hard time wrapping my head around everything," she said.
Reuland's mom Mary didn't know Carew had been waiting months for a heart transplant. "I don't really know if there are really coincidences. I think this was a plan from the good man upstairs," she said.
Normally a recipient doesn't find out who the donor is for six months to a year. In this case, the families figured it out on their own.
The families first met on March 2. The first thing Mary Reuland did was listen to her son's heart. "It was just a wonderful thing to be able to hear a part of my son still here on earth," she said.
Carew started the Heart of 29 campaign years ago because he wore that number on his jersey.
Now he really does have the heart of someone who is 29 and he, along with the Reulands, hoped their unique story would inspire others to register as donors and to take care of the organs they have.
"Whatever journey I take he's going to be right there with me," said Carew.
The baseball legend hopes to channel the drive and passion he has for the game into raising awareness and hope for the thousands of people whose lives could be saved through organ donation.
Baseball star Rod Carew saved by heart of 29-year-old NFL player
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