When it comes to raising awareness and funds for organ transplants and pediatric cancer, this former MVP proves he has a hot hitting streak.
Rod Carew feels great. “I’m thinking that with this 29-year-old heart, maybe someone will sign me to a baseball contract so I can get a few more base hits,” he joked.
The septuagenarian has a 29-year-old heart thanks to organ donor and former NFL player Konrad Reuland. Reuland died due to a brain aneurysm last December. Carew received Reuland’s heart and kidney.
As with most organ recipients, the names of the donors are withheld. When he received the heart and kidney, Carew, a Hall of Fame first and second basemen with the Minnesota Twins and the California Angels, didn’t know it came from Reuland, who played with the San Francisco 49ers, New York Jets, Indianapolis Colts, and the Baltimore Ravens. The two had met 20 years prior.
After the success of Carew’s surgery, his wife had heard about Reuland’s death and wondered if the heart and kidney came from him. When Reuland’s mother heard that Carew had a successful heart and kidney transplant, she figured out this life-saving gift came from her son. It was later confirmed and both families worked together to create Heart 29, a campaign with the American Heart Association. The number 29 is significant because it was the age of Reuland when he died and it was the number on Carew’s Minnesota Twins’ jersey.
The goal of Heart 29 is to get more people to become organ donors. Carew’s family has a long history of educating others on the importance of organ donations. His family signed up as organ donors in memory of his daughter, Michelle, who died of leukemia in 1996; she was 18 years old.
October 10, 2017