MLB Hall of Famer Rod Carew underwent heart transplant surgery late last year. It was a life or death procedure for the baseball great.
As outpourings of well wishes and prayers reached Carew, another sports family was struck by tragedy. Former New York Jets and Baltimore Ravens tight end Konrad Reuland passed away from a brain aneurysm at the age of just 29 years old.
So how do these two stories meet?
Well, the Ravens ran an awe-inspiring and absolutely amazing feature on their official website Friday focusing on the interaction between these two former professional athletes.
See. Reuland, following his death, donated the organs needed to help save Carew’s life.
It’s an absolutely amazing story, one that tugs at your heart like no other.
Carew had been on the heart and kidney transplant list since November. Hospital officials needed to find a match. That came in the form of Reuland, whose family was saying its final goodbyes to the young man in a hospital nearby.
“I had laid my right ear on his heart all day and just listened to his heartbeat,” Konrad’s mom, Mary, said. “When we left him for the last time I said, ‘Whoever gets his heart better deserve his heart because it was a good one.’”
As the former NFL tight end passed away, officials realized that his organs had not failed and he would be able to act as a donor to others in need.
During Reuland’s funeral, family and friends of the young man learned that Carew received a heart and kidney transplant from a 29-year-old male who had died at the UCLA Medical Center, the same facility that Reuland himself passed away in days earlier.
For Reuland’s mom, this was too much of a coincidence.
“Everybody was connecting the dots,” Mary said.
Now, months removed from these connected stories coming to light, it’s clear that, even in death, Reuland saved another man’s life. He was in fact the donor that helped the 71-year-old Carew survive heart and kidney transplant surgery.
Are you really ready to be blown away? Reuland and Carew were in no way strangers. While the organ donation itself was meant to be anonymous, some will conclude that it was in no way a coincidence. Maybe the young man was meant to save the life of another person he met years back.
In fact, Konrad himself met Carew in school when he was just 11 years old. At that point, the child seemed to be downright giddy.
“You know I met Rod Carew!’” Mary recalls him (Konrad) saying over and over again. “That’s how it was the whole rest of the day. It was really kind of cute.”
This lends credence to the idea that everything is connected. Nothing is a coincidence. And even in death, us humans are not far from the life we left.
In the months following this amazing life and death event, the Carews and Reulands would end up meeting. It was at this point, that Rod himself had to conclude that he would always be a part of the Reuland family, and always grateful that he was given a new lease on life.
“Forever,” Rod replied after Mary said he will always be a member of their family. “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.”
As we head into this special holiday weekend for so many of us on this planet, it’s a story like this that can give us faith in our beliefs. That can push us to do better for humanity. To be better people.
After all, Konrad Reuland gave us a beacon of what it means to be special in life and in death.