Mary Reuland leaned over the hospital bed and nestled her head on the chest of Konrad Reuland, the oldest of her three football-playing boys, a 6-foot-6, 270-pound NFL tight end who had been in a coma for almost two weeks.
It was the morning of Dec. 12, in the intensive care unit of the UCLA Medical Center, just hours before doctors declared her 29-year-old son brain-dead from an aneurysm that ruptured behind his left eye on Nov. 30.
“Something in me, I don’t know why, but maybe it’s a mother’s instinct . . . I just laid my right ear on his chest and listened to his heart beating all day, from morning until we had to leave,” Mary said. “I memorized it. And I said, ‘I hope I get to hear this again one day.’”
Less than three months later, Mary stood arm-in-arm with her husband, Ralf, and youngest son, 24-year-old Austin, in the backyard of their San Juan Capistrano home, eagerly awaiting the first meeting with the man who received Konrad’s heart and a kidney in a 13-hour operation on Dec. 16.
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