Reuland died last December, and Carew had a heart transplant several days later — but only Friday did the Baltimore Ravens and the American Heart Association confirm the connection between the two.
Reuland died at UCLA Medical Center, and Carew underwent the operation at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.
Among the revelations in the AHA and Ravens website postings is that Reuland actually met Carew when he was a child, about 20 years before his heart would be given to the first-ballot Hall of Famer, who is 71 and suffered a heart attack in 2015.
Reuland died on Dec. 12 from complications of a brain aneurysm he suffered in November and was out of professional football at the time, having bounced around the league for five seasons as a tight end.
He spent the 2014 and 2015 seasons with the Ravens, and played in the preseason in 2016 for the Indianapolis Colts but was cut from the active roster.
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.
According to the AHA’s posting, Reuland was enrolled at St. John’s Episcopal School in Rancho Santa Margarita from the sixth through eighth grades, at a time that Carew’s two children also attended, which is how the they met when Reuland was 11.
“All he talked about for the rest of that day was, `I met Rod Carew!”‘ said Reuland’s mother, Mary.
After the transplant, the Carew family did not know the identity of the donor, and the Reuland family did not know who received the heart, but there were enough details to connect the dots, according to the AMA. For one, the Reulands knew that a 71-year-old from Orange County had received the heart at Cedars-Sinai, and Carew’s operation and age was widely reported by the media.
The Reuland family eventually called the donation company, even though it was recommended they wait a year before making contact with the recipient, according to the AMA. Carew and his family then visited the Reuland family in March.
After Reuland’s mother told Carew he was now part of her family, he replied, “Forever. I will take care of this one because I’ve been given a second chance, and God knows how I feel and what I’m going to do for him,” according to the Ravens’ posting.
Both families are also encouraging more people to become organ donors, and the AMA noted that Reuland’s organs and tissues could end up going to several hundred people.
—City News Service
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