CHARLESTON, S.C. -- Doug "Mackey" Goodwin says there were "a lot of miracles at work" the day he got his new heart.
The 60-year-old former player for the NFL's Buffalo Bills received a transplant at New York Presbyterian Hospital on Sept. 11, 2001, the day terrorists crashed two planes into the World Trade Center.
The small plane carrying a donated heart for Goodwin left Boston just after the hijacked jets, arriving at the hospital in an ambulance allowed to cross the George Washington Bridge just after it had been closed in the wake of the attacks.
"The story of his transplant is truly the story of a miracle," said Charleston Mayor Joseph P. Riley Jr. "It gives one goose bumps every time one hears about it."
Goodwin, who now lives in Freeport, N.Y., and returned to visit his native Charleston on Thursday, agreed.
"There were a lot of miracles at work that day," he said.
Goodwin said the pilot of the small plane that brought the donor heart from Boston told him the hijacked jets taxied and took off from Boston just before his plane.
By the time the small plane with the donor heart arrived in New Jersey, the bridge into the city was already closed.
"One driver was going to get out and walk it across the bridge," said Goodwin, who spoke to the ambulance driver later. "He said 'I'm going to walk it across' and they say 'No, no, let them through.'"
A fund-raiser will be held next week at a Charleston church to help Goodwin defray $300,000 of his medical bills. His medication alone costs $3,000 per month.