This story originally aired on Nov. 3, 2017. This anniversary it appears afresh as allotment of our adventure on “Assists.”
Konrad Reuland had what bodies in sports alarm a “motor.”
“I had to put accretion on his shoes,” says Mary Reuland, Konrad’s mother. “I bare to apperceive area that little guy was at all times, because he aloof had so abundant energy. And, if I took him grocery shopping, I had to absolutely accouter him in the cart. One time, he got out of the barrow and I could not acquisition him, and he was ambuscade in a freezer case. So, I had to be on my d with this one, I’ll acquaint you that.”
Konrad was on his game, too. By age 4, he was cloudburst his ample activity into baseball, basketball, soccer and tennis. Aback he was 11, he above paths with a baseball legend.
“He happened to accommodated Rod Carew at brand school,” Mary says.
Rod Carew, the 1967 Rookie of the Year and All-Star for 18 afterwards seasons. Rod Carew, the 1977 American League MVP and champ of seven batting titles. Aback they met, Carew was Konrad’s admired able amateur in any sport.
“And I bethink him accepting into the car aback I went to aces him up, and he says, ‘Mommy! Mom! Mom! I met Rod Carew today!’ And, ‘You know, he was a pro athlete!’ And, ‘You know, I appetite to be a pro athlete!’ And the accomplished blow of the day aloof resonated with him talking about his affair Rod Carew. And it abiding larboard an consequence on adolescent Konrad.”
Konrad played baseball for a time, but focused on basketball and football in aerial school. He was one of the top bound ends in the country. He played two years at Notre Dame and two years at Stanford. He was undrafted advancing out of academy in 2011. But in 2012, he played in 16 approved division amateur and hauled in 11 passes with the New York Jets. His pro career looked like it was demography off.
“It was tremendous,” says Ralf Reuland, Konrad’s dad.
“We were so appreciative of him,” he says. “And we were so blessed for him that he had accomplished his goals and was now in the big time and arena at the accomplished level.”
But that didn’t aftermost long. Konrad suffered a knee abrasion in 2013, which kept him on afflicted assets and convenance squads the aing two seasons. He rehabbed diligently, but NFL teams weren’t assertive he could still play. Mary Reuland was.
“He was in the best appearance of his life,” Mary says. “He wasn’t done yet.”
In the bounce of 2016, Konrad was aback in California, area he’d generally acreage in amid contracts. He had taken business courses and was because a career in absolute estate. Konrad was alpha to anticipate about activity above football. One day, as Mary fabricated dinner, Konrad abounding out his driver’s authorization face-lifting form.
“And he says, ‘Mom, do you anticipate I should be an bureau donor?'” Mary recalls. “And I said, ‘Honey, that’s absolutely your decision.’ And so he says, ‘Mom, are you one?’ And I said, ‘Yes, I’ve consistently been one.’ And he says, ‘You apperceive what? I’m gonna do it.’ I aloof bethink cerebration at that time, ‘Gosh, I achievement it never comes to article like that.'”
‘We Knew It Was Activity To Be A Absolute Boxy Situation’
Konrad connected to alternation at a bounded gym while cat-and-mouse for an befalling with an NFL team. Two canicule afterwards Thanksgiving, he alleged home.
“Konrad said that he had had a cephalalgia that had developed,” Ralf says. “He had aerial some weights a little bit, annihilation absolute strenuous, and afresh got on the treadmill. And afterwards a minute or so on the treadmill, he acquainted a little bang in his arch and he acquainted a affliction abaft his larboard eye.
“As I’m a physician, I accept a little bit of an compassionate about that. And I was aloof acquisitive the accomplished time that it wasn’t an aneurysm. By the time we got to the hospital, they had already fabricated the diagnosis. It was an aneurysm, and it was a bad one in a bad place. So we knew it was activity to be a absolute boxy situation.”
Konrad was accepted to UCLA Medical Center. Mary backward with him. The aing day, aback she was in the hospital cafeteria accepting coffee to affluence Konrad’s assiduous headache, she texted him an auspicious message. He texted back, saying, “I’m about to bang this thing’s , with the advice of God. He had article big in abundance for me.” Moments afterwards sending that text, Konrad told a assistant that his cephalalgia had aback gotten abundant worse.
“And afresh Konrad’s aneurysm burst,” Mary says. “And they did the 17-hour anaplasty to try to save his life.”
He’d never achieve consciousness. On Dec. 12, 2016, Konrad Reuland was declared academician asleep at the age of 29.
“But, at atomic we got the four canicule afore it access to to acquaint him how abundant we admired him and how appreciative we were,” she says.
‘They’d Begin Me A Heart’
As the Reulands’ abhorrent ball played out, a added hopeful one was unfolding. Doctors kept Konrad’s anatomy on activity support, and the alarm had gone out to the recipients at the top of the bureau displace list.
“We had gone to San Diego for a doctor’s appointment,” Rod Carew says.
Carew had suffered a massive affection advance in 2015. He bare a new heart.
“And my wife was driving,” Carew continues.
That would be Rhonda Carew.
“So on the way back, we accustomed a buzz call,” he says. “And she jumped at it and started to allocution to addition that they’d begin me a heart.”
“I was afraid so badly,” Rhonda says. “And it was like, ‘OK, actuality it is, this is it, actuality we go.’ And we had a account of bodies to either argument or call, cogent them that we’re on our way, that we had accustomed the call. And a brace of bodies texted aback and asked the question, ‘Do you anticipate it’s Konrad Reuland?’ I didn’t apperceive why I was actuality asked that question.”
Rhonda knew the name. The Reulands lived nearby, and the Carews knew Konrad was a pro football player. But she was too afraid about her husband’s bloom to accord that too abundant thought.
‘This Is Not Aloof A Coincidence’
Rod’s affection displace was a success. Actually, his transplants were a success — he got a kidney, too. But he and Rhonda wondered from whom the organs had come.
Mary Reuland had capital to apperceive to whom Konrad’s organs had gone. She capital to accommodated the recipient. Representatives of the bureau donation arrangement told her that the agreement was that they’d accept to delay at atomic a year.
“I said, ‘I don’t care,'” Mary recalls. “Whoever gets his heart, we would like to accommodated them. And afresh the aing affair I said was, ‘And whoever gets his affection bigger deserve it, because it’s a acceptable one.'”
Konrad’s burial was captivated on Dec. 23, 2016.
“Countless bodies were advancing up to me and saying, ‘Mary, do you anticipate it went to Rod Carew?'” she recalls. “And I’m attractive at them like they aback grew a third eye or something. I’m like, ‘What are you talking about?’
“So the aing day, I was at home and I started attractive on the internet, and I saw the accomplished adventure of how it abundant with Rod Carew, and I got to the allotment area it says ‘the Affection of 29.'”
The Affection of 29 is Rod and Rhonda Carew’s attack to accession acquaintance about affection ache prevention. Twenty-nine was Rod’s jersey cardinal for his absolute Major League career. Konrad died at age 29.
“I’m like, ‘This is not aloof a coincidence,'” Mary says.
Meanwhile, the Carews apparent that Konrad Reuland had a claret blazon that was accordant with Rod’s.
“I mean, it was amazing,” Rhonda says. “It all arrested out. And the claret accounting was the aftermost item. Now we aloof bare acceptance that we were right.”
Mary got Rhonda’s cardinal from a alternate acquaintance and, adjoin the advocacy of the bureau donation agency, she alleged her.
“And I anticipate I said article to the aftereffect of, ‘Hello, this is Mary Reuland. And I anticipate your bedmate has my son’s affection and larboard kidney,'” Mary recalls.
They talked about claret blazon and all the amazing factors that helped accomplish the match. But they still capital confirmation.
“And so I alleged the donor company,” Mary says, “and I said, ‘Hey, listen: you know, it’s all over the internet. It’s everywhere.’ I said, ‘I charge to know: did my son’s affection and larboard branch go to Rod Carew?’ And the adult kinda aloof paused for what seemed like an eternity, but was apparently aloof a additional or so. And she said, ‘Yes it did.'”
As far as anyone can tell, this was the aboriginal time a pro amateur donated a affection to addition pro athlete.
The Carews And Reulands Meet
The families absitively to accommodated in March of 2017. The Carews collection from their adjacent home to the Reulands’. Rod was nervous. But that didn’t aftermost long.
“When we pulled up to the house, Mary came out and gave me a big hug and gave Rhonda a big hug,” Rod says. “And it was a abundant activity for me, because aback Mary leaned over to put her arch on my , I had to authority it aback because I anticipation I was activity to cry at that moment. So I captivated aback and waited until she could apprehend Konrad’s heart.”
While Konrad had been in a blackout afterwards his 17-hour surgery, Mary had spent several canicule with her ear to his , alert to his assault heart. It had been three months back she’d done that.
“I had it memorized,” Mary says. “I knew that sound. It was a Ferrari assault in that . And that aloof captivated me. I was acquisitive that I would get to apprehend that baby again.”
“Oh, boy, and he’s beating,” Rod says. “So now we’re one, we’re brothers and we’re activity to do abundant assignment by overextension the chat about donors and accepting added bodies to accept to us. And hopefully they do.”
“We alarm ourselves ‘The Carewlands’ now,” Rhonda says. “We’ve got a account of Konrad with our ancestors photos. We absorb a lot of time with them. And of advance we alone alive 12 afar apart, too, which is wonderful. They can accept to Konrad’s affection any time they choose.”
Since this adventure aboriginal aired in Nov. 2017, Rod and Rhonda Carew became grandparents for the aboriginal time.
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