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Konrad Reuland is the late NFL player whose heart and kidney are keeping baseball great Rod Carew alive

SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO, California — One evening last April, NFL tight end Konrad Reuland sat on a barstool in his parents’ kitchen and started filling out his driver’s license renewal form.

His mom was making dinner, so they chatted while blowing through their tasks. She pulled out plates; he updated his address.

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He skipped the questions for commercial drivers and military veterans. At Section 6, he paused and asked his mom for some advice.

“Do you think I should be an organ donor?” he said.

“It’s up to you,” she said. “It’s a personal decision.”

“Are you?” he said.

“Yes,” she said. “If I can’t use my organs anymore, maybe they can help someone else.”

He thought about it briefly and said, “I’m going to do it, too.” And on he went to page two of the form.

A month later, the Baltimore Ravens released Reuland (ROO-land). The Colts signed him in July, but let him go in late August.

Once the nation’s top tight end coming out of high school, he wasn’t drafted out of college. Smarts and character helped him earn a place in the pros. He played 30 games, starting four. His NFL dream had come true; he’d beaten the odds. He took pride in that. But he also understood that at 29 he’d become a journeyman, having played for four teams over the last five years.

He also thought he could still play. So he went back to California and sculpted himself into the best shape of his life, carrying a lean 270 pounds on his 6-foot-6 frame while waiting for another team to call.

“God only gives you what you can handle,” he told his parents, Mary and Ralf. “This is happening for a reason. It means I have to keep pushing harder.”

On Thanksgiving weekend, an artery in his brain betrayed him. It bubbled, then burst —a ruptured aneurysm. Surgery stopped the bleeding and patched the damage. But there was too much damage. As big and strong and tough as he was, Reuland couldn’t win this fight.

He could, however, do what he’s always done — improve the lives of others — because of his selfless decision to be an organ donor.

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The fact this donor was a professional athlete doesn’t make his story more remarkable than other donor stories. But it does make his story newsworthy.

The story’s news value rises because of who received his heart and kidney: Baseball Hall of Famer Rod Carew. Organ procurement network officials believe it’s the first time a heart has gone from one pro athlete to another.

Another unique angle is a connection between donor and recipient. Reuland spent sixth through eighth grades at the same small, private school as Carew’s two youngest children. They even met way back then.

Carew brings more layers to this tale.

Read the full original article from AHA News.

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