It was the late 1990s and Reuland was a sixth-grader in Southern California.
Almost 20 years later, they are forever together. Reuland was an organ donor; after he died in December, his heart and a kidney went to Carew, who desperately needed a heart.
Needing a new heart
Most of the time, people who receive organ transplants don’t find out who the donor was.
But Carew’s wife, Rhonda, and Reuland’s mother, Mary, figured out that the former NFL player, who died at age 29, gave new life to the 71-year-old baseball Hall of Famer.
Carew had a heart attack while at a golf course in September 2015. Doctors implanted a mechanical heart device. Fourteen months later, he was put on the heart transplant list.
The opportunity came the next month, at the time when stories of Reuland’s death were in the news. The hulking tight end had in November developed a terrible headache while running on a treadmill, working out in hopes of getting a tryout with another NFL team.
Weeks later he had brain surgery, but never regained consciousness.
Carew was a match. On December 16, he received a new heart and a kidney.
Putting together the clues
Almost immediately, friends of the Carews wondered whether they came from Reuland.
There were some clues; Carew’s wife was told the donor was an exceptionally healthy local man in his late 20s, the heart association said on its news website.
She asked a doctor for the man’s precise age and was told 29 (also Carew’s uniform number).
Reuland’s mother was told the recipient was a 71-year-old man from Southern California. At a dinner honoring her son a few days before Christmas, some people told her…