Rod Carew, the beloved former Minnesota Twin, returned home over the weekend, more than a month after his heart transplant.
He’s hoping to attend spring training, but it’ll be in Arizona where his “other” team — the Angels — play, not Florida where the Twins train. He can’t fly yet.
After a massive heart attack last fall, he spent 47 straight days in the hospital, Fox Sports reports.
“It’s very interesting, the things you go through mentally, hoping that this is it, that you’re not going to have any more problems,” Carew talks Ken Rosenthal. “I’m sure down the line I might. But I’m not going to let those little problems kick my rear, tell me I can’t do it. I now know that I can do something with myself, with the new heart that was donated to me.”
Somewhere, the family of a man made this all possible. He died. They donated a heart.
The Carews have no idea who Rod’s donor is; they were told only that he was 29, that he died at UCLA Medical Center and that he was in exceptional health.
The donor’s family, meanwhile, does not know that it was Carew who received a heart and kidney from their loved one; they know only that they went to a man in his 70s.
Rod and Rhonda both said that they would like to meet the family. Rod thinks back to his daughter Michelle, who died of leukemia at age 18 in 1996. He recalls his intent to thank the family if Michelle had received a bone marrow donation, but the right match was never found.
The recipient of an organ cannot request a meeting; only the donor’s family can. Some families prefer not to revisit their grief; others want to know that a part of their loved one lives on.
Cedars-Sinai recommends that a donor’s family wait at least a year before initiating contact with the recipient, though the family can ask to connect earlier if they choose, Rhonda said.
A year gives the donor’s family time to endure all the “firsts” that occur after a loved one passes, and time for the recipient to move past the greatest risk of rejection.
“I desperately want to meet them,” Rhonda said. “Rod hasn’t focused on it, but I have. I think it would be really a neat thing for the donor’s family to have the ability to listen to their son’s heartbeat again.
“You cannot connect with any other donated organ in any way, shape or form; you see that the person looks really good and they’re doing well and it’s because of the organ they received. But the family can actually hear the heartbeat when the heart is the donation.”
Yet, Rhonda understands that the dichotomy that exists between the families — the devastation on the donor’s side, the elation on her own.
“It’s really hard to reconcile,” she said. “I totally understand if they don’t feel like they can go through all that again by meeting the recipient family. But I’m hopeful. I’m hopeful.”
The heart of 29 lives on, in more ways than one.
Meanwhile, the Wall St. Journal has a heartwarming story of Eric Amshoff and Jerri Kurdila, who worked together at Duke Energy.
They didn’t know each other that well, other than to say “hi” when passing in the hall.
Eric needed a kidney and faced a 10-year wait. His sister distributed fliers in the office.
“I had the same blood type, and a little voice inside me said, ‘Just go get tested. What would it hurt to see if you’re a match?’ ” Jerri said.
It’s one of several stories about co-workers who donated organs to co-workers.