Simon Keith

Simon Keith

Simon Keith

Simon Keith holds the distinction of being the first athlete in the world to play a professional sport after undergoing a heart transplant. Born in Lewes, England in 1965, Simon Keith and his family moved to Victoria, British Columbia in 1967. He started playing soccer at a young age, honing his skills in the very competitive Lower Island Youth Soccer Association, first with the Boys Club Soccer Club and later with Lansdowne Evening Optimists. Simon attended Mount Douglas Secondary School and played with the Prospect Lake Lakers in the Vancouver Island Soccer League. After representing British Columbia at the U-18 and the senior men’s level and Canada at the Youth level, Simon moved to England to play professionally for Millwall FC.

Upon his return to Canada, Simon joined the Canadian National Training Center while also playing for the UVIC Vikes Soccer Team. It was at this time that Simon was faced with an unknown illness that interrupted his career. Simon was just 21 when, in July of 1986, he received the heart of a 17 year-old boy, who ironically died while playing soccer. The surgery was performed at Papworth Hospital outside of London by renowned surgeons Dr. Mohsin Hakim and Sir Terence English.

Simon then moved to Las Vegas in 1987 determined to return to the field of play. Amazingly, he returned to competitive soccer playing for the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, under head coach Barry Barto. During two seasons with the Rebels, he garnered many honors including being named the Student-Athlete of Year for the Conference and being voted USA’s Most Courageous Athlete. After his senior season, Simon 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. His professional career included stops in Cleveland, Victoria, Winnipeg and Montreal.

Now one of the longest-living organ transplant recipients in the world and most notable professional athletes of his time, Simon recently published his biography – Heart for the Game - detailing this most unique journey, including his return to Wales to stand on the field with 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. A keynote speaker, Simon uses the proceeds from his engagements to provide athletic training for other transplant recipients who choose to return to an active and healthy lifestyle.

Simon is married to Victoria native, Kelly, and has three children: Sarah, Samantha and Sean. In addition to his philanthropic efforts, and professional soccer career, he is also the Chief Operating Officer of the Nevada Donor Network, the organ procurement organization for the state of Nevada. Simon has been inducted into the Southern Nevada Sports Hall of Fame as well as been honored by speaking at the White House in advocating for improved organ donation systems.



Victoria enjoys a stellar sports history and we celebrate the many athletes, teams and builders who have contributed to that history.  Our displays are seen at the Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre (1925 Blanshard St.)  through Gate Three.


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