Heart for the Game : The Incredible Saga of Simon Keith

Simon Keith

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. He has lived a rich and glorious life, from professional and personal success, to the joys of family and fatherhood. More than 25 years after receiving his new heart, Keith reflected on all he gained and decided to seek out the Fields family in an effort to learn more about their son James who died tragically and whose heart still beats within Simons chest. And to thank them for all he received. Keiths story is more than simply about the process of getting a transplant. Its about the will to survive and the lessons learned from friends and family along the way. Its about never giving up on a dream and persevering through what some people feel can be overwhelming. The journey ended at the gravesite of James Fields with Keith and James father Robert staring at the headstone, reflecting upon the tragedy that allowed Simon to survive. The incredible coincidences in the lives of James and Simon are simply too much for this to be just a story about overcoming the odds. It is a story that will have you believing in so much more. Their joyous reunion is enough to warm even the hardest soul, and enrich the lives of all who read this incredible, almost unbelievable, true story. I have spent my professional career playing against some of the greatest athletes in the world. Each train hard, have a burning desire for their sport and have inevitably overcome some kind of adversity. I have never met an athlete who overcame Simons circumstances. To say the odds of playing soccer again were overwhelming doesnt even begin to explain what he did. -Steve Nash, two time NBA MVP