The recent double-transplant of a kidney and heart have so far been successful for former Victoria resident Simon Keith.
On Monday, his family released an update on his remarkable progress and discharge from University of California, San Diego Health’s Sulpizio Cardiovascular Center.
Keith had been in hospital since March 17, when he underwent surgery to install a replacement heart for the one he received in 1986.
“There are no words for what we have felt as a family as we have travelled down this most unique journey,” Keith said. “Of course, our deepest and most heartfelt thanks belong to the donor and their family. Without the simple yet significant act of registering their wishes to donate, none of this would be possible.”
The 53-year-old received his initial heart transplant at the age of 21 and is now among the longest living people to undergo a heart transplant, having outlived (32 years) his second heart.
Since retiring as a pro soccer player Keith has focused on advocacy for organ transplant awareness and raised money to support youth undergoing transplants. His release Monday comes with a call for additional support following his second heart transplant. Keith fell ill in the fall with his heart, and his kidney, both failing. It meant his lifesaving organs would need to come from the same donor hero.
Keith was born in England but grew up in Saanich playing for Lansdowne Minor Soccer and the Mount Douglas Rams soccer team and then UVic Vikes (Vikings) before undergoing a heart transplant in 1986. He then transferred to the UNLV Running Rebels in the NCAA and graduated to the pro circuit, making history.
The month of April is a busy one for the California-based Simon Keith Foundation, as it’s National Donate Life Month across the U.S.
“I will spend every day honoring the heroes and families who have saved me,” Keith said. “By sharing my story and the stories of those who’ve made it possible, I hope it inspires others to give the gift of life. Thank you to every person who is registered as a donor. You are a true hero.”
In Canada, provincial registries can be accessed through the Canadian Blood Services website at blood.ca/en/organs-tissues. Monetary donations to the Simon Keith Foundation are dedicated to providing financial support, primarily to youths, who have undergone a life-saving organ transplant and who desire a return to an active and healthy lifestyle.