September 13, 2017 6:16 pm
Updated: September 13, 2017 6:28 pm

Winnipeg Rifles assistant coach returns to field following heart transplant

WATCH: Global's Mitch Rosset reports on Neville Scarlett's long wait for a heart transplant.


WINNIPEG – You often hear of coaches having big hearts. But it’s not always a good thing.

Five years ago, doctors discovered Winnipeg Rifles assistant Neville Scarlett’s heart was enlarged. The condition caused three-quarters of it to fail. At 42 years old, the diagnosis was tough to take for the father of three.

“They said I shouldn’t be living right now,” Scarlett said. “I was pretty much angered. Why something like this? Why me?”

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Simply put, Scarlett needed a new heart. His wait for a donor lasted years until earlier this summer.

“My doctor told me he might have to send me to Edmonton,” Scarlett said. “I looked at him and asked why. I totally forgot that I’m actually going to to get a heart.”

Within hours, the former fullback was on a plane to Alberta. The following day, an unusual sound roused him from surgery.

“The heart beat woke me up in the back of my head,” Scarlett said. “It was just a pounding in my head and it woke me up.”

With a new heart, came a new lease on life. But the one thing that didn’t change was Scarlett’s passion for pigskin. Just three weeks after his transplant, he was back at practice.

“When you play sports for so long, it gets in your blood,” Rifles head coach Geordie Wilson said. “It’s shaped him a lot.”

A part of Scarlett’s personality. A part of his family.

“They’ve been solid,” Scarlett said. “They’re so supportive. They always want the best for me.”

Always there just like he’s been for the team.

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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