Ex-UNLV soc­cer great Keith eyes sec­ond heart trans­plant

Las Vegas Review-Journal (Sunday) - - DAILYLINE - RON KANTOWSKI LV IN­SIDER Con­tact Ron Kantowski at rkan­[email protected]­viewjour­nal.com or 702-383-0352. Fol­low @ronkan­towski on Twit­ter.

USU­ALLY when I re­ceive a text mes­sage from Si­mon Keith, it’s a tip about a young soc­cer phe­nom from Las Ve­gas, or to con­firm the lla­mas will be back at his foun­da­tion’s an­nual golf tour­na­ment that raises so much money and aware­ness for or­gan do­na­tion.

Mon­day’s mes­sage was dif­fer­ent.

The for­mer UNLV soc­cer star wrote that he was in a hos­pi­tal at the Univer­sity of San Diego fac­ing an­other heart trans­plant.

He had his first one 32 years ago. The av­er­age life ex­pectancy of heart trans­plant re­cip­i­ents is nine years, and Keith says he is eter­nally grate­ful. But now, like the 115,000 oth­ers on the or­gan trans­plant list, he sits, waits, fights, gets stuck by nee­dles and tries to re­main pos­i­tive.

“I’m do­ing good,” he said on the tele­phone, and there wasn’t any­thing in his voice to sug­gest he wasn’t. “It’s been 32 years with this heart, and they don’t re­ally last that long. I’ve been very for­tu­nate. But it’s de­te­ri­o­rated enough to where my kid­neys are shut­ting down.

“So I’m ac­tu­ally wait­ing for a heart and a kid­ney. But I have to do some things with my im­mune sys­tem be­cause my im­mune sys­tem is con­fused, be­cause it’s mine and my donor’s.”

Two out of ev­ery three days he has all the blood re­moved from his body and pu­ri­fied. It feels like run­ning from touch line to touch line on a soc­cer pitch about 100 times. Or 200.

“It’s like dial­y­sis but on steroids. It leaves you whacked out, and it’s no fun,” said Keith, 53, who has been in the hos­pi­tal since Oct. 29.

On Tues­day, there was an­other text: The num­bers were good from this lat­est round of treat­ments; most of the an­ti­bod­ies in his blood sys­tem have been cut in half.

Si­mon Keith closed the mes­sage with a flexed bi­cep emoji.

Busch fam­ily heart­break

A week af­ter Kyle and Saman­tha Busch an­nounced they were ex­pect­ing their sec­ond child through in vitro fer­til­iza­tion, the race car driver’s wife has had a mis­car­riage.

Saman­tha Busch made the tear­ful dis­clo­sure on her Twit­ter ac­count Fri­day. The cou­ple, whose 3-year-old son, Brex­ton, was con­ceived through in vitro fer­til­iza­tion, had planned to use so­cial me­dia to chron­i­cle the preg­nancy as a guide for oth­ers.

“It’s still early in the process,” Kyle Busch said Wed­nes­day dur­ing NASCAR Cham­pion’s Week in his home­town of Las Ve­gas. “We an­nounced six, seven weeks ear­lier than any­body else would ever an­nounce be­cause of go­ing through the process and keep­ing every­body up to date with what the doc­tors are telling us.”

Ko­ufax on court

With the Cincin­nati bas­ket­ball team in town to play UNLV, for­mer Re­view-Jour­nal en­ter­tain­ment colum­nist and Cincin­nati sports writer Norm Clarke shared a story he once wrote about one of the more fa­mous Bearcats bas­ket­ball play­ers not nick­named “The Big O.”

It was about a 6-foot-2inch for­ward named Sandy Ko­ufax, who av­er­aged 9.2 points for the Cincin­nati fresh­man team be­fore the weather warmed and he started un­leash­ing 12-to-6 curve­balls that would help him achieve base­ball im­mor­tal­ity.

“Had he re­mained in school, he would have joined Cincin­nati scor­ing great Jack Twyman, later a pro star, on the 1954-55 var­sity which went 21-8 and took third in the Na­tional In­vi­ta­tion Tour­na­ment,” Clarke wrote in the April 4, 1974, edi­tion of the Cincin­nati Equirer.

Starter up

Yes, the Al­liance of Amer­i­can Foot­ball has a chance to pro­duce the next Kurt Warner, and it was an un­ex­pected sur­prise when Mar­shawn Lynch ac­com­pa­nied his cousin and No. 1 draft pick Josh John­son on­stage at Luxor’s Es­ports Arena on Tues­day.

(Warner also was on hand as a CBS Sports Net­work an­a­lyst.)

But the best part of the new spring league’s quar­ter­back draft was when Hines Ward helped John­son put on a San Diego Fleet warmup jacket to mark the oc­ca­sion. It was a Starter jacket, com­plete with the satin sleeves and quilted lin­ing.

Starter is the of­fi­cial jersey sup­plier of the AAF, and those jack­ets are so retroac­tively cool that the guys from lit­tle-known col­leges who will wind up wear­ing them as back­ups prob­a­bly won’t mind get­ting beaten out for start­ing jobs.

0:01

Once a ballplayer, al­ways a ballplayer.

In the sum­mer of 1984, when he was 60 years old, vice pres­i­dent of the United States and play­ing in an old-timers base­ball game, Ge­orge H.W. Bush dived to his left to knock down the ball, picked it up and threw out Or­lando Cepeda. He was us­ing the old first base­man’s mitt he had used at Yale when he was its first base­man.

When he be­came pres­i­dent, he kept the old mitt oiled up in a desk drawer in the Oval Of­fice, just in case.

Bizuayehu Tes­faye Las Ve­gas Re­view-Jour­nal @bizutes­faye

For­mer UNLV and pro soc­cer player Si­mon Keith speaks on be­half of his Si­mon Keith Foun­da­tion on Oct. 4. The re­cip­i­ent of a heart trans­plant 32 years ago, Keith, 53, is now in need of a new heart, as well as new kid­neys.

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