Simon Keith holds the distinction of being the first athlete in the world to play a professional sport after undergoing a heart transplant.
Keith was just 21 when, in July of 1986, he received the heart of a 17 year-old boy. Keith amazingly returned to competitive soccer a year after his transplant playing for the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV). After playing two seasons with the Rebels, Keith garnered many honors including being named the Student-Athlete of Year for the Conference as well as voted as USA’s Most Courageous Athlete. After his senior season, Keith was named the Most Valuable Player at the Senior Bowl and was drafted first overall into the Major Indoor Soccer League, just three years after his heart transplant.
Now one of the longest living organ transplant recipients in the world and most notable professional athletes of his time, Keith recently published his biography – Heart for the Game – detailing this most unique journey, including his return to Wales to meet his donor’s father, 25 years after that fateful day when the boy lost his life.
In 2011, he founded The Simon Keith Foundation, an organization dedicated to increasing organ donor awareness and educating transplant recipients. And in 2014, Keith was named one of Las Vegas’ Most Intriguing Personalities for his work with the Nevada Donor Network in turning it into the highest producing organ procurement organization in the world.