Rod Carew's new heart came from former Stanford, NFL player Konrad Carew: How an NFL player s donated heart saved life of a baseball Hall of Famer Share this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Mary Reuland listens for the first time to the heart of her son Konrad Reuland as it beats in the chest of baseball Hall of Famer Rod Carew, Thursday, March 2, 2107, at her home in San Juan Capistrano, Calif. Her son died last December after suffering a brain aneurysm. (Photo courtesy of the American Heart Association)Mary Reuland holds a locket containing a picture and thumb print of her son Konrad Reuland at her home in Southern California, Monday, April 10, 2017. Konrad, a former NFL football player, died late last year from a brain aneurysm. (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group)Recounting the pain of a losing her son Konrad Reuland to a brain aneurysm last December, Mary Reuland is overwhelmed by emotion, Thursday, March 2, 2107, at her home in San Juan Capistrano, Calif. Konrad was an organ donor whose heart was given to baseball Hall of Famer Rod Carew. (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group)Konrad Reuland gets his nails done by Kimi, a young family friend battling neuroblastoma. He d often make the 70-mile drive to visit the young girl in the hospital and sing Taylor Swift songs. (Photograph courtesy Mary Reuland)Ralf and Mary Reuland, and their youngest son Austin, talk about their oldest son, Konrad, and his decision to become an organ donor at their home in San Juan Capistrano, Calif., Monday, April 10, 2017. Konrad, a former NFL football player, died late last year from a brain aneurysm. (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group)Konrad Reuland s baby photo sits in a case at the Reuland family home Monday, April 10, 2107, in San Juan Capistrano, Calif. (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group)After Konrad Reuland died, his parents, Ralf and Mary, and their youngest son Austin, commemorate him with an illuminated hologram in the kitchen of their home in San Juan Capistrano, Calif., Monday, April 10, 2017. Konrad, a former NFL football player, died late last year from a brain aneurysm. (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group)Konrad Reuland opted to be an organ donor just eight months before his death. His organs ended up being donated to numerous recipients, including baseball Hall of Famer Rod Carew. (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group)Rod Carew holds a portrait of heart donor Konrad Reuland, Tuesday, April 11, 2017, at his home in Coto de Caza, Calif. The baseball Hall of Famer received Reuland s heart in a transplant late last year. (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group)With his wife Rhonda by his side, Rod Carew smiles Tuesday, April 11, 2017, at their home in Coto de Caza, Calif., as he talks about the gift heart donor Konrad Reuland gave to him and his family. Carew received Reuland s heart in a transplant late last year. (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group)A week after what would have been his 30th birthday, Konrad Reuland s gravesite remains decorated, Tuesday April 11, 2017, in Lake Forest, Calif. Reuland died this past December from a brain aneurysm https://www.dodgersstoreonline.com/6-adrian-gonzalez-jersey. (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group)A Heart of 29 pin rests on the headstone of Konrad Reuland s gravesite, Tuesday April 11, 2017, in Lake Forest, Calif. Reuland died at age 29 this past December from a brain aneurysm. (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group)A Heart of 29 pin sits on the headstone of Konrad Reuland s gravesite, Tuesday April 11, 2017, in Lake Forest, Calif. Heart of 29 is the name of Rod Carew s heart disease prevention campaign. He received Reuland s heart in a transplant operation last December. (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group)The Reulands keep an autographed baseball that Rod Carew left at the gravesite of their son Konrad Reuland on his birthday, April 4, 2017. The former NFL football player died late last year from a brain aneurysm, and Rod Carew received his heart in a transplant. (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group)After wearing 29 on his back throughout his long Hall of Fame baseball career, Rod Carew is grateful to now have the heart of a 29-year-old, thanks to an organ donation from NFL player Konrad Reuland Pedro Baez Jersey. Carew spoke Tuesday, April 11, 2017, at his home in Coto de Caza, Calif., about the renewed focus he has for his Heart of 29 disease prevention campaign. (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group)Show Caption of ExpandBy Daniel Brown | email@example.com | Bay Area News GroupPUBLISHED: April 14, 2017 at 10:17 am | UPDATED: April 17, 2017 at 4:56 amSAN JUAN CAPISTRANO Konrad Reuland spent the last day of his life in a coma as his mother, resigned to her son s fate, curled up close, rested her head on his broad chest and listened to his heartbeat for as long as she could.Reuland s heart, strengthened by his days as a football player at Stanford and in the NFL, sounded as mighty as ever. And Mary lay there from sunrise to sundown savoring the pulsing rhythm. Occasionally, someone would gently nudge her and tell her it was time to go.var _ndnq = _ndnq || ; _ndnq.push([ embed ]); No, Mary told them. This is the thing I have to do today. Reuland died of a brain aneurysm Dec. 12 and his organs were donated, as per his wishes. The family knew only that Konrad s kidney went to a Southern California woman in her 60s, his liver went to a male in his 50s and, most notably, his heart and other kidney went to a 71-year-old man in south Orange County.By the time of the funeral, friends who had read about Rod Carew s recent heart transplant in Los Angeles were putting two and two together. They pulled Mary aside and asked if it was possible: Do you think Konrad saved Carew? Did the heart of an NFL player wind up in the chest of a baseball Hall of Famer?Mary hadn t considered that prospect before, but she was instantly overcome with the feeling it had to be true. So after a flurry of back-channel texts and e-mails, she wrangled a phone number for Carew s wife, Rhonda, and left an improbable message: This is Mary Reuland, she said. And I think your husband may have my son s heart and kidney. Give me a call back. Related Articles Hall of Famer Rod Carew getting heart transplant today Konrad Reuland dead at 29; former 49er, Stanford Cardinal So began the journey of two Orange County families now intertwined as one. The Reulands and the Carews, bound by a single heart, have joined forces to fight cardiovascular disease and to promote organ donation. Both families spoke to the Bay Area News Group this week.They are going public, both families said, because they believe Konrad has deemed it so. Sometimes Carew sits at Reuland s gravesite and talks it out. I just thank him for saving my life and putting a roaring heart inside my body, the 18-time All-Star said. We have a long way to go together. With his wife Rhonda by his side, Rod Carew smiles Tuesday, April 11, 2017, at their home in Coto de Caza, Calif., as he talks about the gift heart donor Konrad Reuland gave to him and his family. Carew received Reuland s heart in a transplant late last year Brock Stewart Jersey. (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group)Carew already had a partnership with the American Heart Association, a campaign launched a year ago and named after his uniform number with the Minnesota Twins and California Angels. It s called The Heart of 29. Konrad Reuland was 29 when he died.When the families met in person for the first time, in a visit coordinated by the AHA on March 2, one of the first things Mary did was lean her head against Carew s chest. Using a stethoscope to eavesdrop on a miracle, she listened hard as Carew took deep and purposeful breaths.Five seconds went by as Mary tried to find her son https://www.dodgersstoreonline.com/30-joe-blanton-jersey. Ten 15 16 There it is, Mary said.Her face turned crimson and, reflexively, she wrapped her arms around Carew s neck. She was hugging a stranger. She was hugging her son. Does it sound the same? Rhonda asked, quietly.Mary nodded through the tears. I ve got it memorized, she replied.# # #Carew likes coffee now, which is weird. He couldn t stand the stuff for his first seven decades on earth, but now he s constantly asking Rhonda to make him a cup. He likes it with cream, no sugar, just the way Konrad did. The heart wants what it wants.There s something else new since the operation: hope. Carew, so serene as a ballplayer over a career that yielded 3,053 hits, concedes he lost his cool while languishing on the heart transplant list. Every day I would cry, the 1977 American League MVP said. As soon as Rhonda left the hospital, I started crying. And then I started screaming. And when I got up in the morning and looked at the clock, it d be 5 or6 o clock and I would start crying and I just couldn t stop. His downward slide began Sept. 20, 2015 at the Cresta Verde Golf Course in Corona. Carew stepped up to the first tee, smacked a shot down the middle and instantly felt as if his chest was burning.He was having a massive heart attack, the type they call the widow-maker.Carew backed his cart up to the clubhouse and yelled for help. He doesn t remember much after that, aside from a paramedic hovering over him with paddles. He had a glow around him, Carew said, his eyes occasionally reddening. All of a sudden I heard him say, Let s go, dammit! We re losing him! And I was gone. He said he flat-lined once more at Riverside Community Hospital and vaguely remembers more paddles, more panic. My only thought was my wife, Carew said, turning again to look at Rhonda. What s going to happen to her? That s all I thought about. Nothing else but: Who s going to take care of her? As it turned out, Rhonda could take care of things just fine. Nicknamed the Pitbull, a moniker she embraces, Rhonda is such a formidable presence that when it s time to buy a new car, Rod takes a stroll outside and sics Rhonda on the salesman.Rhonda became Rod s caretaker, chauffeur and medical advocate. She learned so much about the transplant process that surgeons joked about giving her an honorary degree.Carew survived with the help of a Left Ventricular Assist Device (LVAD), which was implanted during a six-hour surgery at Scripps La Jolla Hospital. The mechanical heart pumped the blood, but also required bulky battery packs and had to be plugged in at night.Carew was put on the heart transplant list Nov. 18, at which point Rod and Rhonda began sleeping with their cell phones nestled between them, convinced the call would come in the middle of the night. After three days, Carew was already losing hope. I think they forgot me, he said.The Pitbull, meanwhile, joined forces with Carew s doctors and kept pushing for him to be bumped up on the priority list. They argued that a subdural hematoma in July had meant Rod could no longer take blood thinners, putting him at increased risk. Rhonda also worried that her husband s age Rod turned 71 on Oct. 1 was becoming a factor.Carew got bumped up to 1-AE status, the second highest rung, on Dec. 9. Five days later, on Dec. 14, the Carews got a call that a heart and kidney match were waiting for him.Both families are sensitive to the possible perceptionthat this was preferential treatment. They know people will roll their eyes that somehow the mint-condition NFL heart wound up with the seven-time batting champion.But the process is blind, and strictly regulated by the United Network of Organ Sharing (UNOS), which guarantees fairness in the allocation of organs for transplant.Reuland was a Type-O donor. Carew is a B-Positive blood type but was the first on the list to also match as a Hepatitis-B immune recipient.Now, at long last, Carew s outlook is the same as his blood: Be-Positive. I can t tell you how much of a difference having a heart has made, said his son, Devon. His stamina is up. Psychologically, he feels like he can do more. And knowing all the coincidences my mom calls them God winks that led up to him getting Konrad s heart just makes it all the more special. # # #Konrad Reuland was working out on the treadmill at the time of his fatal brain aneurysm. Of course he was. Konrad was a perpetual motion machine from the time he was born and was so unstoppable as a toddler that his mother took to tying bells to his shoes.Recounting the pain of a losing her son Konrad Reuland to a brain aneurysm last December, Mary Reuland is overwhelmed by emotion, Thursday, March 2, 2107, at her home in San Juan Capistrano, Calif. Konrad was an organ donor whose heart was given to baseball Hall of Famer Rod Carew. (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group) I needed to know where that little stinker was, Mary explained.Konrad excelled in every sport he tried and declared at a young age he would be a professional athlete one day. So it was understandably thrilling for the 6th grader when he had a chance encounter with a retired ballplayer at St. John s Episcopal School in Santa Margarita. One of his schoolmates there was Cheyenne Carew. I picked him up from school and the first thing he said when he got in the car was, Mom, I met Rod Carew today! Mary recalled.That was the first time Konrad gave his heart to Rod Carew.On the day Reuland died, Mary left the hospital only after giving one last instruction to the doctors. Whoever gets this heart better deserve it, she warned, because this is a good one. Her message had a double-meaning. The heart was good because it was strong. It belonged to a 6-foot-6, 270-pound tight end who played two seasons at Stanford under coach Jim Harbaugh, then followed him to the 49ers, where he spent 2011 on the practice squad.Stanford s Konrad Reuland, left, celebrates his touchdown with Stepfan Taylor in the fourth quarter at Stanford University in Stanford, Calif. on Saturday, October 9, 2010. The Stanford Cardinal beat the USC Trojans, 37-35. (Jim Gensheimer/Mercury News)Reuland also played 30 career NFL games for the New York Jets (2012-13) and Baltimore Ravens (2015). At the time of his aneurysm, Reuland was working out on the treadmill, burning off Thanksgiving dinner calories in case an NFL team needed his services. In terms of health, his heart was a Ferrari, Mary said.But the good heart was also kind. Over the final five years of his life, Reuland sometimes made a 70-mile drive to San Diego to visit Kimi, the young niece of a family friend. At the age of 4, she was diagnosed with neuroblastoma, a nerve tumor of the spinal cord and brain.There s a video of the hulking football player sitting next to the sick girl on a hospital bed as they sing Taylor Swift s Shake It Off together. Reuland knows every word.Reuland returned from those trips with sparkling nails so often that he no longer had to ask Mary where her nail-polish remover was.Mary remarked once about how sweet it was that Konrad took the time to go see her. What are you talking about, mom? he replied. She s my inspiration. Reuland s heart wound up going to someone who spent much of his life steeling his own. Carew knew cruelty growing up in Panama, where his father beat him as a matter of routine. He says now that the reason he was never nervous on the baseball field was because he d long ago declared the diamond to be his sanctuary. I made the baseball field the area where there was nothing anybody could do to take me away from the job I was there to do, Carew said.But at age 50, he softened. His daughter, Michelle, died of leukemia at age 18 and while she languished on the bone-marrow transplant list, she urged her father to use the power of his baseball stardom to generate more donors. She had said to me, Daddy, people are going to listen to you because of who you are, Carew said. And at that time, I wasn t really close with the press. But I said, OK, if you say that, I will do all I can until I m no longer alive. That s a promise that I made to her. # # #Carew likes to say now that he has two birthdays, his own and Konrad Reuland s. While the rest of him reached AARP age long ago, his heart turned 30 on April 4.The Carews commemorated his heart s big 3-0 by visiting Konrad s gravesite with balloons and a gift: a signed baseball with an inscription that opened: Happy birthday, Konrad. I promise to always take care of your very priceless gifts. Upon pulling into the cemetery, they saw that Mary and her youngest son, Austin, were already there. It was an impromptu reunion for a group that now calls each other family. They spent two hours together, listening to music and reflecting on their journey. It was just kind of crazy being with Konrad s heart on his birthday, Austin said. It wasn t planned. It just kind of happened like that. The families talk most about what to do next. Carew and Rhonda work with the American Heart Association to encourage people to get screened for warning signs and to take steps toward better heart health. Last year, the AHA set up a station at the players hotel in Cooperstown, where the Carews persuaded dozens of fellow Hall of Famers and their significant others to get screened at no charge.A former Angels pitcher, Clyde Wright, heard of Carew s tale and went to the doctors to get checked out. Wright had a 90 percent blockage in four places and promptly had a quadruple bypass. He called me and said, Thanks for allowing me to have another birthday and to be with my grandchildren, Carew said.Ralf and Mary Reuland, meanwhile, as well as brothers Austin and Warren, are using Konrad s story to promote Big Brothers Big Sisters. They created a scholarship in his honor. Because that s the kind of life he lived, Mary said.They know first-hand how a small step can make a big difference. Just last April, Konrad Reuland was sitting in the kitchen filling out his driver s license renewal form. He casually asked his mom if he should be an organ donor. That s a totally personal decision, sweetie, Mary told him. You have to do what feels right. He checked the box.Reading this on your phone? Stay up to date with our new https://www.dodgersstoreonline.com/51-trayce-thompson-jersey, free mobile app. Get it from the Apple app store or the Google Play store.Tags:BaseballStanford Cardinal Portland star and Oakland native Damian Lillard expressed appreciation for the Golden State s greatness following the Warriors sweep of the Trail Blazers. The Warriors are dealing with some major things and this franchise absolutely could use a week to step back and take a breath to deal with other challenges. Top prospect goes 0 for 4, but veteran right-hander throws six shutout innings to continue his career bounce-back Golden State planted 45 first quarter points on the overmatched, ready-to-vacation Blazers and ran away with a dominating 128-103 win to complete four-game sweep.