Rod Carew's new heart, kidney came from late NFL player Konrad Reuland

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AP

Rod Carew's new heart, kidney came from late NFL player Konrad Reuland

SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO, Calif. -- Baseball Hall of Famer Rod Carew received a new heart and kidney from the late NFL player Konrad Reuland in what is believed to be the first such transplant involving pro athletes.

Carew underwent the procedure last December and met Reuland's family in March after mutual friends connected Reuland's death with news of Carew's transplant on Dec. 16. Reuland had died four days earlier after a ruptured brain aneurysm at age 29.

Reuland attended middle school in Southern California with Carew's children, and he met Carew when he was 11.

"The whole thing is just unbelievable," Carew told American Heart Association News. "I've been given a second chance so I'm going to take advantage of it, and I've got another family."

Reuland played for the New York Jets and Baltimore Ravens. He also spent time with the San Francisco 49ers and Indianapolis Colts, who released him last August.

The only details the Carew family received before the transplant were that the donor was "male, late 20s, local, exceptionally healthy."

The Reulands were told the recipient was a 71-year-old man from Orange County.

The two men's blood type was the same, but the key factor was both were immune from Hepatitis B. No one ahead of Carew on the transplant list was immune.

Reuland's parents, Ralf and Mary, and their youngest son Austin took turns listening through a stethoscope to Konrad's heart beating inside Carew's chest when they met the former baseball star and his wife Rhonda, according to the American Heart Association News.

"We are so thankful, so grateful, so there aren't adequate words," Rhonda Carew told the Reulands.

Last fall, Reuland was on a treadmill when he experienced a severe headache. The aneurysm, a ballooning in an artery in his brain, burst a few days later. He underwent surgery, but never woke from a coma and his brain activity stopped a few weeks later.

During the final hours Mary Reuland spent with her oldest child, she kept her right ear on his chest. Her final words to the representative of the organ procurement network were, "Make sure his heart goes to a really good person because Konrad was a really good person."

Last April, Konrad Reuland was renewing his driver's license in his parents' home. He asked his mother whether he should become an organ donor. She'd signed up to do it, so he did, too.

Carew's health issues began in September 2015 when he had a near-fatal heart attack while playing golf. He spent a year with a left ventricular assist device in his chest handling the work of his damaged heart.

Last fall, blood thinners he took as part of his protocol led to bleeding in his brain, making it more urgent for him to get a new heart.

Carew went on the transplant waiting list the Friday before Thanksgiving and moved higher a few weeks later. He got the call that a match was found on Dec. 14. He received the heart and kidney two days later.

Heart disease has touched the Reulands, too. Mary lost her father and a 31-year-old brother to heart attacks; Ralf's father has received a stent and battles atrial fibrillation.

Both families want to encourage more people to become organ donors. Carew's family has long been signed up as organ donors in memory of his daughter, Michelle, who died of leukemia when she was unable to get a match for a bone marrow transplant.

The families plan to work together, especially on "Heart of 29," the campaign Carew started last year with the American Heart Association.

The program's name came from Carew's jersey number. Because Konrad Reuland died at 29, the name carries added meaning.

Reid: National anthem protest accomplished goal of awareness

Reid: National anthem protest accomplished goal of awareness

SANTA CLARA – Safety Eric Reid and linebacker Eli Harold, who joined Colin Kaepernick in kneeling during the national anthem last season, will not continue the protest this season.

Reid said Wednesday they achieved their goal of bringing attention to racial inequality in the United States.

“When we started doing that, our goal was to open up the floor to conversation. I believe we’ve achieved that goal,” Reid said. “So now we just want to move forward and just partner with people that’s trying to make a change.

“We accomplished that goal. People talked about it. I think we raised a lot of awareness about issues in this country. And now it’s time to move on to just affecting change.”

Reid and Harold are back with the 49ers, while Kaepernick remains a free agent. The 49ers have expressed no interest in retaining Kaepernick after opting to sign free-agent quarterback Brian Hoyer and Matt Barkley, instead.

“I stay in touch with him,” Reid said of Kaepernick. “I’m rooting for him. Obviously, he isn’t on a team, yet, but I’m rooting for him but hopefully he gets that call after the draft.

“It’s surprising. You see some of the other quarterbacks that have been signed around the league and why he hasn’t been, it’s just unfortunate.”

When asked if thought Kaepernick was paying the price for his protest, Reid answered, “I think so. It’s unfortunate, it’s sad. People want to shy away from him because of media, PR reasons.

“You’re doing something to better the world. I mean, the guy got a plane sent to Somalia to help with the famine there. He’s been doing things that if it were anybody else in a different situation without the anthem (protest), they’d be praising him and giving him awards for it.”

 

Coming off Achilles injury, Bowman returns to 49ers practice at full speed

Coming off Achilles injury, Bowman returns to 49ers practice at full speed

SANTA CLARA – NaVorro Bowman, who sustained a season-ending torn Achilles in Week 4 of the 2016 season, has been a full participant as the 49ers return to the practice field this week.

Bowman worked with the first team at middle linebacker Wednesday and appeared to move at top speed as the 49ers went through the second day of on-field workouts at a voluntary minicamp.

The 49ers, under new coach Kyle Shanahan, are allowed an extra voluntary minicamp as part of their offseason program. Bowman's return to the practice field was the highlight as the 49ers enter their third-week of the offseason program.

In other notes:

--The 49ers had tryouts with three unsigned veteran players: cornerback Steve Williams, and offensive linemen Tim Barnes and Kitt O’Brien.

--Wide receiver DeAndre Carter made the best catch of the day on a deep throw from quarterback Matt Barkley. Carter beat Williams on the reception.

--Defensive lineman Arik Armstead, who is a candidate to play the “Leo” position, was held out of competitive drills as he continues to recovery from surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder.

--Ronald Blair lined up at the “Leo” position with the first-team defense and beat No. 2 right tackle Garry Gilliam for a sack in the “non-contract” drills. Aaron Lynch was at the “Leo” position with the second team.

--Tank Carradine lined up at the 5-technique, which is a position where the 49ers could target Stanford’s Solomon Thomas with the No. 2 overall pick.

--Kyle Juszczyk showed the versatility that prompted the 49ers to make him the highest-paid fullback in the league with several pass receptions during the 90-minute practice.

--Rashard Robinson and Dontae Johnson lined up at the cornerbacks with the first-team defense. Robinson made a leaping interception of a Brian Hoyer deep sideline pass against Rashad Ross during 7-on-7 drills.

--Hoyer and receiver Pierre Garçon teamed up for a 20-yard completion on the opening play of the 11-on-11 period.

--Wide receiver Bruce Ellington, who spent all of last season on injured reserve, did not practice due to a soft-tissue injury not related to his hamstring injury of a year ago.

--Offensive lineman Jeremy Zuttah (soft tissue), tight end Je’Ron Hamm (leg), running back Raheem Mostert (soft tissue), linebacker Eli Harold (toe) and tight end Blake Bell (cut forehead) did not practice.