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Former UNLV soccer star recovering after second heart transplant, kidney transplant

Posted at 6:49 AM, Mar 19, 2019

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Former UNLV soccer star Simon Keith is recovering after undergoing his second heart transplant at the University of San Diego Hospital on March 17. He also received a kidney transplant.

Keith's daughter Samantha shared an updated to The Simon Keith Foundation's Facebook page Monday evening, "Dad officially has a working HEART AND KIDNEY!!! He's in the ICU and recovering. On behalf of the Keith family we thank ALL OF YOU who have been supporting us."

At 53 years old, Keith is one of the longest-surviving heart transplant recipients. He received his first transplant in 1986 when he was 21 and began playing soccer at UNLV shortly after. He went on to become the first athlete in the world to play a professional sport after receiving a heart transplant, being drafted number one overall in the Major Indoor Soccer League by the Cleveland Crunch.

Keith's former coach at UNLV, Barry Barto, said he hasn't been at all surprised by Keith's success on and off the field because as a player, he was always driven to succeed and even helped his teammates step up too.

"Every player that played with him and beside him, I think, marveled at the energy level and how hard he worked," said Barto, an associate athletic director at UNLV. "There were no excuses for anyone else. If Simon could do it, they could do it."

Barto said he believes Keith's mental strength has helped him defy the odds over the years and will continue to help him as he recovers from his recent transplants.

Keith's accomplishments go well beyond the soccer field - he has served as the COO of the Nevada Donor Network and is the CEO of The Simon Keith Foundation, which raises awareness about organ donation and helps kids who have had transplants get into sports.

Video photo credit courtesy of The Simon Keith Foundation.