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.]