The Cleveland Crunch of the Major Indoor Soccer League has signed its No. 1 draft choice, Simon Keith of the University of Las Vegas, but that’s only half the story. Keith has been living the last three years with a transplanted heart. Keith received the heart from an English soccer player who had died of a blood clot on his brain while playing. Keith’s own heart was damaged by viral myocarditis, a weakening of the heart muscle. ”He is a unique individual and I’m happy to have us be a part of his story,” said Al Miller, the Crunch president and general manager. ”Simon is the rare combination, outstanding soccer player and outstanding human being.”(AP)
Simon Keith is not only one of the longest-living heart transplant recipients, he is also the first to have ever played professional sports after a transplant. This is his remarkable story. It is the story of one of the most talented young soccer players in North America, on his way to playing for his country in the 1986 World Cup in Mexico. Unfortunately, Simon never made that trip. He was diagnosed with a fatal heart disease and given only a few weeks to live. Then something extraordinary happened. Perilously close to death, Simon received the gift of a heart donation. Simon was given a second chance, from the most ironic of donors. Following his heart transplant, not only did Simon return to play professional soccer becoming one of the best players in North America for the second time, he went on to live the life he always dreamed of having.