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

Posted April 16, 2017

She connected with Rhonda, and they bonded nearly immediately. "We have a long way to go together".

As per his wishes, Reuland's organs were donated - one of his kidneys was given to a Southern California woman in her 60s; his liver was given to a man in his 50s; and his heart and other kidney were given to a 71-year-old man in south Orange County, California.

Reuland's family didn't know who his heart was given to at first, until friends drew the conclusion after hearing of Carew's transplant and the families got in touch.

Reuland was an organ donor, and his heart went - in a December transplant - to Hall of Fame baseball player Rod Carew, 71. Carew's family has for some time been joined as organ givers in memory of his girl, Michelle, who kicked the bucket of leukemia when she was not able get a match for a bone marrow transplant.

'I just thank him for saving my life and putting a roaring heart inside my body, ' Carew said.

"That's how it was the whole rest of the day", Mary gushed about her late son. "It was really kind of cute", she told

"For him to meet a pro athlete at that age, it was like the best thing that could happen to him".

Carew met Reuland's mother three months after receiving the heart from Reuland, who played four games for the Ravens last season, starting in one.

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On April 4 - what would have been Reuland's 30th birthday - Rod and Rhonda showed up to the grave alongside Reuland's parents.

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

'This is Mary Reuland, ' she said, leaving a voicemail after dialing up Carew's wife, Rhonda. His heart?and kidney went to Carew, who was at the top of the donor list after dealing with life-threatening complications from a heart attack he suffered a year earlier. Mary lost her dad and a 31-year-old sibling to heart assaults; Ralf's dad has gotten a stent and fights atrial fibrillation. Give me a call back'.

Carew's health issues began in September 2015 when he had a near-fatal heart attack while playing golf. 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.

The American Heart Association set up the first meeting and the two families have gotten together several times since.

"Does it sound the same?"

"Forever", Carew replied, according to the Ravens' website.

Mary, with her head pressed against Carew's chest, nodded.