CINCINNATI – Sam Wyche's son thanks Cincinnati for praying for his dad and says the former Bengals coach and quarterback is "doing great" after a life-saving heart transplant.
"He's still resting and recovering," Zak Wyche told WCPO Tuesday night. "He's been sleeping most of the day. I don't know if he's woken up or not, but they were letting him sleep and then they were going to work on waking him up tomorrow."
Zak Wyche said the 4 ½ surgery Tuesday "went off without a hitch. There were no unexpected surprises and he's doing good.
"It's amazing that he has such a big heart and always helping people and this is what is causing him the most problems. But he's a fighter and he's not going down without giving everything he has," said Zak Wyche, a teacher at Cincinnati's Purcell Marian High School.
Jennifer Wyche, Sam's daughter-in-law and Zak's wife, provided another update Thursday that Sam "is doing great."
"He is alert and aware of everything being talked about," she said. "We think they will get him up to walk a little tomorrow."
The family also expressed their desire to "extend the most sincere thank you to all of those who have been praying for Sam. We continue to be amazed at the impact he had and still has on this community. Just as Sam touched the lives of so many in Cincinnati over the last 30 years, you have now all returned that to our family. We ask you to continue to pray for Sam as well as the donor family who so kindly gave us this gift of life. From each and every one of us in the Wyche family - we thank you!"
The transplant didn't come a moment too soon. Wyche's doctors told him Monday that he would have just a week to live if a donor couldn't be found.
Zak Wyche said he was preparing to give his kids the bad news.
"He called me during my class and, um, told me that the window has passed for the pump and if he doesn't get a new heart within a week, they would send him home and hospice would come in and try to make his remaining time as comfortable as possible," Zak Wyche said. "So I was preparing to tell the kids what was going to happen to their grandfather.
"Later on I got a message that they got a heart and it's just been a roller coaster."
In the meantime, the football team at Moeller High School – including Zak's son, Sammy – had gathered at the statue of Mary at the school to pray for Wyche.
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"We are very excited for him and so grateful to the donor family. I know they are going through a tough time right now," Zak Wyche said. "Being an organ donor is such a great thing and we are so grateful people are out there doing that."
Wyche, who underwent surgery at a hospital in Charlotte, North Carolina, could going home to South Carolina "in a week to two weeks," his son said.
"We have been reading all the posts on social media and we appreciate all the prayers and are so thankful," Zak Wyche said. "And we are just grateful to the community for the love and support they have shown us.
"Cincinnati is an amazing place."