Abu Dhabi: A former English footballer who became the first athlete to play professional sport after undergoing a heart transplant is raising awareness about the need for organ donation in Abu Dhabi.
Simon Keith, 54, who played in Canada and the US during his career from 1989 to 1991, despite undergoing a heart bypass for myocarditis (deterioration of the heart muscle) in 1986, will be meeting UAE residents in Adnoc Park until Friday.
“Organ donation saved my life and I am committed to supporting organ donation efforts worldwide to further inspire this act of kindness and generosity,” said the former Victoria Vistas, Winnipeg Fury, Cleveland Crunch and Montreal Supra forward.
In Abu Dhabi with his son Sean, 23, who is himself a professional footballer, the duo are in the UAE capital as part of efforts by the Abu Dhabi Health Services Company (Seha) to educate residents about the UAE’s organ donation and transplant programme.
Visitors can also undergo a free medical exam, get flu shots and sign up for organ donation.
Seha has so far enabled the families of 20 deceased patients from eight countries to donate organs and save 74 lives.
Transplants were organised in partnership with the UAE’s Ministry of Health and Prevention, the Abu Dhabi Department of Health and the UAE’s four organ transplant centres.
In addition, transplantation services are continuing to see increased demand, with the inclusion of both related and deceased donations, and with the completion of over 300 kidney transplants in children and adults.
As a result, the UAE’s rate of post-mortem organ donation is 3.7 per million population (pmp), exceeding the global rate of 3.5 pmp.
Today, the UAE is one of only two countries in the region that provides organ donation and transplantation, alongside Saudi Arabia.