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5 Other Famous Transplants

Former Vice President Dick Cheney’s heart transplant has been getting a lot of attention lately. And, while the nature of Cheney’s political career makes him an obvious target for discussion and debate, the Veep is definitely not the first celebrity to undergo a major organ transplant:

1. Mandy Patinkin – Corneal Transplants
The Tony and Emmy award-winning actor (a.k.a. The Princess Bride’s Inigo Montoya) suffered for years from a degenerative eye disorder called Keratoconus. After initially being treated with contact lenses, Patinkin’s condition worsened to the point where a full transplant was needed. He received the corneal transplant in his right eye, followed by a transplant in his left eye a year and a half afterward.

2. Robert Altman – Heart Transplant
The celebrated director of MASH, Nashville and Gosford Park was accepting a Lifetime Achievement award at the 2006 Oscars when he revealed for the first time that he'd undergone a heart transplant years before:

"I'm here under false pretenses … Eleven years ago I had a heart transplant, a total heart transplant. I got the heart of, I think, a young woman who was in about in her late thirties. By that kind of calculation you may be giving this award too early because I think I've got about 40 years left."

Sadly, he was wrong on his estimate. He passed away later that year from leukemia.

3. Natalie Cole – Kidney Transplant
The story behind Cole’s kidney transplant is especially heart-wrenching. The musician and daughter of jazz legend Nat King Cole first received news that a long-awaited kidney was available while sitting at the bed of her cancer-stricken sister. After being told she’d have to be at the hospital within two hours to undergo the surgery, Cole made the difficult decision to go through with it. While the transplant surgery was successful, her sister sadly passed away while it was in progress.

4. George Lopez – Kidney Transplant
Talk about having leverage in divorce proceedings. In 2004, the comedian’s then-wife donated one of her kidneys to him. In 2011 they finalized an end to their 18-year marriage.

5. Mickey Mantle – Liver Transplant
In June of 1995, the hard-drinking Yankee slugger received a controversial liver transplant, necessitated by the extensive damage done to his liver by cirrhosis and Hepatitis C. Following the procedure, Mantle delivered a plain message to the public about his years of drinking: "This is a role model: Don't be like me.” When he passed away barely two months later, the already-brewing controversy fueled by the apparent ease and speed with which Mantle received a new liver became even more hotly debated.

[If you're interested in learning more about becoming an organ donor, visit here.]

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Bleat Along to Classic Holiday Tunes With This Goat Christmas Album
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Feeling a little Grinchy this month? The Sweden branch of ActionAid, an international charity dedicated to fighting global poverty, wants to goat—errr ... goad—you into the Christmas spirit with their animal-focused holiday album: All I Want for Christmas is a Goat.

Fittingly, it features the shriek-filled vocal stylings of a group of festive farm animals bleating out classics like “Jingle Bells,” “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” and “O Come All Ye Faithful.” The recording may sound like a silly novelty release, but there's a serious cause behind it: It’s intended to remind listeners how the animals benefit impoverished communities. Goats can live in arid nations that are too dry for farming, and they provide their owners with milk and wool. In fact, the only thing they can't seem to do is, well, sing. 

You can purchase All I Want for Christmas is a Goat on iTunes and Spotify, or listen to a few songs from its eight-track selection below.

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What Are the 12 Days of Christmas?
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Everyone knows to expect a partridge in a pear tree from your true love on the first day of Christmas ... But when is the first day of Christmas?

You'd think that the 12 days of Christmas would lead up to the big day—that's how countdowns work, as any year-end list would illustrate—but in Western Christianity, "Christmas" actually begins on December 25th and ends on January 5th. According to liturgy, the 12 days signify the time in between the birth of Christ and the night before Epiphany, which is the day the Magi visited bearing gifts. This is also called "Twelfth Night." (Epiphany is marked in most Western Christian traditions as happening on January 6th, and in some countries, the 12 days begin on December 26th.)

As for the ubiquitous song, it is said to be French in origin and was first printed in England in 1780. Rumors spread that it was a coded guide for Catholics who had to study their faith in secret in 16th-century England when Catholicism was against the law. According to the Christian Resource Institute, the legend is that "The 'true love' mentioned in the song is not an earthly suitor, but refers to God Himself. The 'me' who receives the presents refers to every baptized person who is part of the Christian Faith. Each of the 'days' represents some aspect of the Christian Faith that was important for children to learn."

In debunking that story, Snopes excerpted a 1998 email that lists what each object in the song supposedly symbolizes:

2 Turtle Doves = the Old and New Testaments
3 French Hens = Faith, Hope and Charity, the Theological Virtues
4 Calling Birds = the Four Gospels and/or the Four Evangelists
5 Golden Rings = the first Five Books of the Old Testament, the "Pentateuch", which gives the history of man's fall from grace.
6 Geese A-laying = the six days of creation
7 Swans A-swimming = the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, the seven sacraments
8 Maids A-milking = the eight beatitudes
9 Ladies Dancing = the nine Fruits of the Holy Spirit
10 Lords A-leaping = the ten commandments
11 Pipers Piping = the eleven faithful apostles
12 Drummers Drumming = the twelve points of doctrine in the Apostle's Creed

There is pretty much no historical evidence pointing to the song's secret history, although the arguments for the legend are compelling. In all likelihood, the song's "code" was invented retroactively.

Hidden meaning or not, one thing is definitely certain: You have "The Twelve Days of Christmas" stuck in your head right now.

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