Rod Carew “is expected to make a full recovery,” the Twins announced Friday, after the Hall of Fame infielder underwent 13-hour surgery to receive a heart and kidney transplant at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.
“The entire Minnesota Twins family is happy to report that Rod Carew had a successful heart and kidney transplant,” the team said in a statement. “Rod is resting in recovery.”
A donor heart was obtained on Wednesday, and after a full day of preparation, the procedure began shortly after midnight Pacific time early Friday morning, and lasted 13 hours, the team said.
Carew, 71, had been living with a left ventricular assist device implanted in his heart to keep it beating since suffering a massive heart attack on Sept. 20, 2015. He spent last summer raising awareness for heart health, creating the “Heart of 29” campaign and traveling the country to promote it.
But shortly after returning from Hall of Fame induction ceremonies in July, doctors warned the 71-year-old Carew that a heart transplant would be necessary soon. He was put on a transplant waiting list a little more than a month ago.
Carew, an 18-time All-Star and seven-time batting champion, spent the first 12 seasons of his major league career with the Twins, earning Rookie of the Year honors in 1967 and the AL Most Valuable Player Award in 1977. With 3,053 career hits, he is one of 30 players to eclipse the 3,000-hit mark in MLB history.
According to the American Heart Association, heart transplant patients typically are hospitalized for 2-3 weeks after the procedure, and require 3-6 months to fully recover. Roughly 2,300 heart transplants are conducted in the U.S. annually, with the majority of patients able to resume essentially normal lives.