Only fifteen days after receiving a lifesaving heart and kidney transplant, Simon Keith has officially been discharged from the University of California, San Diego Health’s Sulpizio Cardiovascular Center. For the second time in his life, a heroic donor and their courageous family have given Simon the greatest gift one human can receive from another: the gift of life.
Late last year, Simon learned he needed another heart transplant more than 30 years after the first he received at just 21 years old – but this time, he also needed a kidney. To further complicate the matter, both lifesaving organs would need to come from the same donor hero. After several months in and out of the hospital fighting for his life, Simon got the call and his gift of a heart transplant on March 17, 2019. He underwent a successful kidney transplant the following day as well thanks to the same heroic donor.
Humbled and grateful beyond words, Simon and his family continue to be overwhelmed by the enormous outpouring of love and support from around the globe.
“The support from Victoria, Canada; Las Vegas, Nevada; across the U.S. and the planet has simply been incredible,” said Simon. “There are no words for what we have felt as a family as we have travelled down this most unique journey. 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.”
More than 32 years ago, another hero gave Simon his first lifesaving gift. Just 21 years old at the time, Simon was a young soccer player who suddenly learned he needed a new heart. That gift came on July 7, 1986 from a 17-year-old boy from Wales whose legacy lives on through Simon as detailed in his biography, “Heart for the Game.” Just three years later, Simon became the first person in the world to play a professional sport after undergoing a heart transplant. Due to his personal journey, he started the Simon Keith Foundation in 2011 – dedicated to raising awareness for organ donation and specifically to providing support for families whose children have undergone lifesaving transplants. He looks forward to continuing these efforts on behalf of youth navigating new challenges and looking to him as a source of inspiration.
Simon has been instrumental in his role as Chief Operating Officer for Nevada Donor Network (NDN), the organ procurement organization also responsible for coordinating tissue and cornea donation across Nevada. With Simon’s guidance, NDN has continued to lead the world in terms of organs recovered and transplanted per capita served for the last several years. After a brief recovery period, he looks forward to resuming this role as well as social entrepreneurship to bring organ, eye and tissue donation into the mainstream.
Coincidentally, the exciting news of Simon’s departure from the hospital also lands right at the start of National Donate Life Month. Across the U.S., the month of April focuses on showing the power of donation and encouraging more people to register as organ, eye and tissue donors.
“I will spend every day honoring the heroes and families who have saved me,” shares Simon. “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.”
Please stand with Simon by registering as a donor.
In the U.S., you can now register directly through your iPhone’s built-in Health App/Medical ID or online at www.registerme.org.
In Canada, provincial registries can be accessed through the Canadian Blood Services website at https://blood.ca/en/organs-tissues.