Victoria’s Simon Keith is lauded for his international advocacy on organ transplants. The Mount Douglas secondary grad and retired pro-soccer player is in hospital in San Diego, where he’s been living in California. Simon Keith Foundation

Victoria transplant advocate Simon Keith hospitalized, needs another heart

Retired pro soccer player back in line for heart, kidney transplants

Thirty-two years after a revolutionary heart transplant, Simon Keith is back on the organ transplant wait list.

This time the 54-year-old from Victoria needs another heart to replace the one he received in 1986, and a new kidney. The retired soccer player made history as the first to play professionally with a heart received through a transplant.

Keith’s been battling and deteriorating for a while, but the news only just got out, said lifelong friend Ian Klitsie, who runs the foundation with Keith. Klitsie stayed here in Victoria but talks to Keith almost everyday.

“He’s been in the San Diego hospital on and off, but was able to escape to attend foundation events,” Klitsie said. “We didn’t want to upset anyone at that point in time as this is something difficult to face again, he has to go through it all again.”

But now, Simon won’t be leaving the hospital until he gets a heart and kidney, Klitsie said.

Klitsie has known Keith since the pair were four years old and playing soccer together, often coached by Keith’s dad as the two climbed up through the ranks. Both attended Central junior high (now a middle school) before Simon and his older brother Adam moved and transferred from Vic High to Mount Douglas.

“I talk to him everyday, more often now that this story is out and both our phones are off the hook,” Klitsie said. “I told him, ‘you have control of your phone, you don’t need to answer it.’”

Read More: Simon Keith inducted to Greater Victoria Sports Hall of Fame

Keith has spent his retirement driving the Simon Keith Foundation to create awareness in the U.S. and Canada of the need for organ donors and to support youth who undergo an organ transplant.

He now lives in southern California where he played pro soccer after a stint at the UNLV in Las Vegas where he established himself as an all-star. He then played for the Cleveland Crunch of the Major Indoor Soccer League, the short-lived Victoria Vistas (1989-90) and also the Winnipeg Fury and Montreal Supra in the Canadian Soccer League.

The silver lining for Keith — who is among the longest living heart transplant recipients — is that California is well populated as transplant wait lists are regional.

“Simon matter-of-factly said just yesterday, ‘It is what it is, I’m now one of the 115,000 waiting for a transplant (in the U.S.A.),” Klitsie said.

Among the events Keith is involved in is the foundation’s annual October golf tournament in Las Vegas. Over the last five years the tourney has pulled in $1 million. This year’s drew about 100 people from Victoria.

But everything is on hold for now.

“[Keith] plans to be better and back at it in October, if not sooner,” Klitsie said.

“Surgery is a far cry from what it was 32 years ago,” Klitsie said. “Kids are released 10 days after their transplant now, sent out to live their life. Sure, it’s life saving, but at the end of the day you have to get back on with the life.”

reporter@saanichnews.com


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Land sale could threaten Shirley’s water supply: officials

Sale will allow for the subdivision and development of forestry lands

320 years since the ‘Big One’ doesn’t mean it’s overdue: Canada Research Chair

‘It could happen today, tomorrow or 100 years from now’

Night construction means closures for Interurban Road

Traffic interruptions at Interurban Road near Wilkinson Road from Dec. 9 to 20

Decision on Victoria’s bid for 2022 Invictus Games expected next month

Greater Victoria is competing against Germany’s Düsseldorf to host the games

‘Kind of lacking:’ Injured Bronco wonders why Canada won’t fund spinal surgery

“I think if Canada can step in and advance this program”

No reports yet of Canadians affected by New Zealand volcano eruption, feds say

Missing and injured included tourists from the U.S., China, Australia, Britain and Malaysia

Vancouver Island blues musician’s mother’s home burglarized and ransacked

David Gogo’s 71-year-old mother has jewelry and artwork stolen in break-in

Dance cancelled after Alberta teacher’s climate lesson prompts online threats

School district near Red Deer cancelled annual family dance due to Facebook comments

Feds not enforcing standards on Hungarian duck imports, B.C. farmer says

‘You have no way of knowing what’s in the bag’

In surprise move, defence won’t call witnesses for accused in Abbotsford school killing

‘Change of instructions’ results in defence closing case without calling evidence

B.C. VIEWS: An engine that hums right along

First Nations are leading a new surge of investment in B.C.

74% of 911 calls are from cellphones, so know your location: E-Comm

Cell tower triangulation generally only narrows location down to the block someone is calling from

No negligence in RCMP actions in B.C. teen’s overdose death: Watchdog

Police acted properly when they responded to the first reports of the boy being in distress

Most Read