April 18, 2017 07:13 PM
Former Twins star Rod Carew and the family of former NFL player Konrad Reuland met the media Tuesday to discuss the life-saving heart and kidney transplant Carew received from Reuland this past December.
Carew received the organs on Dec. 16, four days after Reuland had died of a ruptured brain aneurysm at the age of 29. It's believed to be the first transplant of its kind involving professional athletes.
Carew first met with Reuland's family in March after mutual friends made the connection.
"When we first met, it was like we'd known each other our whole lives," Carew said at Tuesday's press conference in Encino, California.
"They were very interested in what was going on inside me. As interested as I was," he said.
Reuland played for the New York Jets and Baltimore Ravens. He also spent time with the San Francisco 49ers and Indianapolis Colts and was released him last August.
His mother Mary said it was emotional to first hear her son's heart beating inside the 71-year-old Carew's chest. Reuland attended middle school in Southern California with Carew's children.
Reuland even met Carew when he was 11.
"The last day I was with Konrad, I actually laid my head on his chest and listened from noon until night. Until I had to leave him," she said. "So to be able to hear his heart beat again, I'm not sure there are words to describe that."
Carew's wife Rhonda expressed her gratitude to the Reulands.
"You have one grieving family here and one elated," she said. "But for the grieving family to be here says a lot about their character, about who they are as people and as a family."
Carew hopes the story encourages more people to become organ donors.
"It's a very special thing," he said. "You can help somebody else reach goals in life that they wouldn't have been able to if they didn't have a donor, or an organ donated to them."
The Associated Press contributed to this report
Updated: April 18, 2017 07:13 PM
Created: April 18, 2017 02:53 PM
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