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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Victoria police arrest suspect in two daytime robberies

A robber told businesses he had a weapon and demanded cash

What Victoria residents are looking to buy while social distancing

New search terms pop up on the Used.ca the top 100 list

‘We need to do better:’ VicPD responds to more parties, gatherings

Chief pleads with public to ‘think of the greater good’

Flurries fall on Malahat Monday morning

Showers expected off and on for rest of the day

Saanich community kitchen continues food distribution amid COVID-19 pandemic

New food delivery system launches March 27 for members stuck at home

Canada expands 75% wage subsidy to COVID-19 affected businesses of all sizes: Trudeau

Program will provide up to $847 per week for each worker

COVID-19: A message from the publisher

We will be making some changes to our print editions during these unprecedented times

Cruise ships, one with COVID-19 on board, carry Canadians covertly through Panama Canal

Zaandam, Rotterdam pass through canal under cover of darkness in face of local protests

’The energy sector is destroyed beyond repair’: expert on COVID-19’s impact on economy

‘That’s never been heard of before; no one sells oil for $4 a barrel.’ – Dan McTeague

LifeLabs reducing public hours as it assists with COVID-19 testing

Coronavirus tests not done at B.C. patient centres, referrals only

24,000 Canadian Forces members ready for COVID-19 response: Defence Minister

No direct requests made by premiers yet, national defence minister says

IN DEPTH: How B.C. emptied its hospitals to prepare for COVID-19

Thousands of beds have been freed up, but patients and seniors have had to sacrifice

‘Nothing concrete’: Tenants, landlords lack details after B.C. unveils COVID-19 rental aid

Single mom in Golden says she’s already going to the food bank after being laid off

B.C. is seeing the highest rate of COVID-19 recovery in Canada, and there’s a few reasons why

British Columbia was one of the first to see rise in COVID-19 cases, and has also switched up testing

Most Read