The Keiths then heard about a doctor in London who had developed a treatment for myocarditis that didn't involve a transplant. Because Simon had been born in Lewes, England, the National Health Service medical system of Great Britain would pay for his treatment.
But when Professor John Goodwin examined Keith, he decided that too much of his heart had been destroyed for the treatment to be successful, and instead sent Keith to Dr. Terence English, a transplant surgeon at Papworth Hospital in Cambridge. English examined Keith and said to him, "If you want one, we'll give you one."
The transplant could be performed only if Keith was completely free of the steroids he was taking, so while he waited for a donor, he was taken off them. During the next 21 days, his kidneys and liver began to fail. All he remembers about those three weeks was the World Cup final, won by Argentina 3-2 over West Germany, on June 29.
On July 6, a 17-year-old boy died of a brain hemorrhage while playing soccer in Wales. His heart was transplanted into Keith's chest the next day. While it is the hospital's policy to keep a donor's identity from the recipient, the Keiths learned where Simon's new heart had come from through relatives in the boy's hometown. There was an article about his death on the front page of the local newspaper and, a few inches away on the same page, one about Simon's transplant. Though English confirmed the identity of the donor, the Keiths have never contacted the boy's family.
"What's the shortest time anyone's been in the hospital after one of these?" were Simon's first words after he regained consciousness. His health improved immediately, and for the first time in months he could feel his fingers and toes.
Two-and-a-half months later, Keith returned to Canada a celebrity. Before the operation, the story of the dying soccer star had been all over the Victoria newspapers and local television. Marathons and dances were held to raise money to send to England. "The community adopted him," says David, who's a phys ed teacher at a junior secondary school in Victoria.
Simon was grateful for the community's support, but the demands of being a celebrity were beginning to weigh on him. "The media in Victoria was driving me crazy," he says. "Everyone knew about the transplant because I was a soccer player. They raised money for me, and they were great. But it became bigger than it should've been. I'd go out and want to have a beer and there would be somebody there saying that I shouldn't."
That fall, Keith transferred to UNLV, where his older brother, Adam, played midfield on the soccer team. Simon signed up for the team as well. He also signed a waiver that released the university from any liability should something happen to him. And he reassured coach Barry Barto by saying, "Look, if I die, I die. But I won't, I promise you."
Keith was named all-Big West in both his years at UNLV and, after his senior season, he was chosen the conference's student-athlete of the year. In April he was invited to the Wichita all-star game, reserved for the top 30 seniors in the country.
After Keith convinced Miller that it was possible for someone to have a heart transplant and play soccer, Miller told the Crunch's majority owner, George Hoffman, that Keith was the player he wanted. Hoffman turned the matter over to professionals. "My doctors and his doctors talked," says Hoffman. "We have a stack two feet high of reports from doctors and lawyers."