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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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Animals
Why Tiny 'Hedgehog Highways' Are Popping Up Around London
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Hedgehogs as pets have gained popularity in recent years, but in many parts of the world, they're still wild animals. That includes London, where close to a million of the creatures roam streets, parks, and gardens, seeking out wood and vegetation to take refuge in. Now, Atlas Obscura reports that animal activists are transforming the city into a more hospitable environment for hedgehogs.

Barnes Hedgehogs, a group founded by Michel Birkenwald in the London neighborhood of Barnes four years ago, is responsible for drilling tiny "hedgehog highways" through walls around London. The passages are just wide enough for the animals to climb through, making it easier for them to travel from one green space to the next.

London's wild hedgehog population has seen a sharp decline in recent decades. Though it's hard to pin down accurate numbers for the elusive animals, surveys have shown that the British population has dwindled by tens of millions since the 1950s. This is due to factors like human development and habitat destruction by farmers who aren't fond of the unattractive shrubs, hedges, and dead wood that hedgehogs use as their homes.

When such environments are left to grow, they can still be hard for hedgehogs to access. Carving hedgehog highways through the stone partitions and wooden fences bordering parks and gardens is one way Barnes Hedgehogs is making life in the big city a little easier for its most prickly residents.

[h/t Atlas Obscura]

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Big Questions
Where Should You Place the Apostrophe in President's Day?
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Happy Presidents’ Day! Or is it President’s Day? Or Presidents Day? What you call the national holiday depends on where you are, who you’re honoring, and how you think we’re celebrating.

Saying "President’s Day" infers that the day belongs to a singular president, such as George Washington or Abraham Lincoln, whose birthdays are the basis for the holiday. On the other hand, referring to it as "Presidents’ Day" means that the day belongs to all of the presidents—that it’s their day collectively. Finally, calling the day "Presidents Day"—plural with no apostrophe—would indicate that we’re honoring all POTUSes past and present (yes, even Andrew Johnson), but that no one president actually owns the day.

You would think that in the nearly 140 years since "Washington’s Birthday" was declared a holiday in 1879, someone would have officially declared a way to spell the day. But in fact, even the White House itself hasn’t chosen a single variation for its style guide. They spelled it “President’s Day” here and “Presidents’ Day” here.


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Maybe that indecision comes from the fact that Presidents Day isn’t even a federal holiday. The federal holiday is technically still called “Washington’s Birthday,” and states can choose to call it whatever they want. Some states, like Iowa, don’t officially acknowledge the day at all. And the location of the punctuation mark is a moot point when individual states choose to call it something else entirely, like “George Washington’s Birthday and Daisy Gatson Bates Day” in Arkansas, or “Birthdays of George Washington/Thomas Jefferson” in Alabama. (Alabama loves to split birthday celebrations, by the way; the third Monday in January celebrates both Martin Luther King, Jr., and Robert E. Lee.)

You can look to official grammar sources to declare the right way, but even they don’t agree. The AP Stylebook prefers “Presidents Day,” while Chicago Style uses “Presidents’ Day.”

The bottom line: There’s no rhyme or reason to any of it. Go with what feels right. And even then, if you’re in one of those states that has chosen to spell it “President’s Day”—Washington, for example—and you use one of the grammar book stylings instead, you’re still technically wrong.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

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