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Last month, in Cooperstown, New York, baseball legend Rod Carew moved through the crowd at the 2018 Hall of Fame ceremony, with a briskness that only a new heart can deliver.
Two years ago, the retired All-Star who had tallied 3,000 hits with the Minnesota Twins and California Angels, lived just up the road from the UCLA medical center where an NFL football player was on his deathbed declaring that God had a plan for his life—yet the young Baltimore Ravens tight end, Konrad Reuland, passed away from an aneurysm.
A few hours later, however, a serendipitous plan did unfold, when Konrad’s heart would end up saving the very man who inspired him to become a pro athlete.
Rod Carew had spent a lot of his time with children when he wasn’t hitting over .300 every year on the baseball field. One of those kids was Konrad, who was so taken by the star’s winning ways, that he decided right there at age 11 that he wanted to grow up to be a sports hero just like Carew.
Fast forward to a year before Konrad’s aneurysm. Rod suffered a massive heart attack and doctors informed him that he would need a new one if he wanted to life to see any more innings.
As destiny would have it, the donor who ended up saving the life of Carew—#29—was the 29-year-old Reuland, whose passion for athletics was forged by Carew’s kindness.
It was the first known incident of a pro athlete became a donor to another player.
Carew, now 72, uses Konrad’s heart to advocate for the American Heart Association to honor the memory of his own personal Angel.
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