PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — A former NFL coach who was the recipient of a heart transplant spoke about his experience at the Pittsburgh Center for Organ Recovery and Education on Saturday.

As a former player and coach in the NFL, Sam Wyche knows all about fighting battles. Wyche coached the Cincinnati Bengals from 1984 to 1991 and remembers some classic football wars with Chuck Noll and the Steelers.

“Chuck told me one time at a League meeting, ‘You realize you are the only coach that has a winning record against me, only active coach,’” Wyche said. “I said, ‘You got to be kidding me, all I remember is getting my butt kicked.’”

After his coaching days ended, Wyche fought his biggest battle.

In September 2016, he suffered severe heart failure and desperately needed a miracle.

(Photo Credit: Tim Lawson/KDKA)

(Photo Credit: Tim Lawson/KDKA)

He told volunteers at the Center for Organ Recovery the story about two high school football teams in Cincinnati. His grandson played for one of the teams, and his son coached the other.

Both teams prayed for him on the day his new heart arrived.

“At that moment, the doctor comes in and says, ‘We found a heart.’ I’m guessing God knew ahead of time, but other than that, nobody else knew,” Wyche said.

Wyche praises his doctors, saying he’s had no pain or complications. He hopes to one day thank the donor’s family.

“Someday when they’re ready, I’ve written and told them, ‘I’m ready any time you are. When you’re ready, let me know, and I will fly wherever you are, and I want to thank you for giving me a second chance at life because I was a dead man,’” he said.

At age 71, he’s urging everyone to sign up to be an organ donor.

“When you pass on and you are through with this body, what greater gift could you give to mankind than to leave your heart or your lung or your cornea or your ligaments or your skin or your kidney, your pancreas,” he said. “All can be harvested and enhance or save somebody’s life.”

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