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

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It was the late 1990s and Reuland was a sixth-grader in Southern California.

Nearly 20 years later, they are forever together.

Carew suffered a heart attack in 2015, and it was later determined that he needed a heart transplant following complications.

Former NFL tight end Konrad Reuland died December 12 at the age of 29 following a ruptured brain aneurysm.

Interestingly enough, Rod didn't know whose organs he received, since the donor's family has to request that information in order to set up a meeting.

Reuland was an organ donor, and his heart went - in a December transplant - to Hall of Fame baseball player Rod Carew, 71.

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Carew suffered a major heart attack on a golf course on September 20, 2015. Just over a year later his name was added to the list of people waiting for a heart transplant. That is where Reuland came into play. The hulking tight end had in November developed a bad headache while running on a treadmill, working out in hopes of getting a tryout with another National Football League team. "We lost a wonderful man, so it had to go into a wonderful person", Mary Reuland, his mother said via a statement on the Ravens' official website.

Carew was a match.

Late past year, Carew appeared on the verge of giving up hope - until he was informed that a new heart and kidney were waiting for him.

Mutual friends immediately connected the dots between Reulands death and Carews new chance at life.

They didn't know it at the time, but he had, in fact, received the heart of 29-year-old Konrad.

She asked a doctor for the man's precise age and was told 29 (also Carew's uniform number).

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This is believed to be the first organ transplant between two professional athletes.

Reuland died at UCLA Medical Center, and Carew underwent the operation at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. On March 2, they met at the Reuland home for a remarkable reunion – one family filled with joy, the other still grieving, both bonded by a young mans selfless gift.

"Does it sound the same?"

"We are so thankful, so grateful, so there aren't adequate words", Rhonda Crew told the Reulands.

Reuland nodded and smiled, "I've got it memorized".

Carew is considered one of the greatest hitters in the history of baseball, as the owner of a.328 career average, 3,053 hits, seven batting titles and 18 All-Star Game selections while playing for the Minnesota Twins and California Angels.

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Mary Reuland retold the story of when her son came back from school at age 11 and told her he had met Carew. Organ donations are always kept anonymous for at least a year, allowing families to process their loved one's death and to surpass the period when a recipient's body is at the highest risk to reject the organ.

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