Getting an organ transplant is like getting a new lease on life. Someone has given you an amazing gift and a second chance, and no amount of thanks can make up for it.
It takes a lot of time to recover from an operation like this, but that doesn't mean it can't be done. These celebrities know first hand that no amount of money can make you heal faster, it's all about hard work.
1. George Lopez
The comedian and actor needed a kidney transplant in 2005 after a genetic disorder caused his to deteriorate. His wife, Ann, chose to donate one of hers.
"I was doing this out of love, and that I had faith in the operation," Ann recalls. "To me, this was about us, about our daughter, Mayan. But George, he comes from a very dysfunctional family, a horrific childhood. It was hard for him to accept that someone would give him the gift of life."
"I was crying. I thanked her and I told her I loved her," George recalls. "I was more concerned about her than I was about myself."
Sadly the couple called it quits 5 years later and filed for divorce.
2. Natalie Cole
Before she passed away in 2015, had received a kidney transplant in 2009. The singer had contracted Hepatitis C due to her heroin and cocaine addiction, but the family of a fan who had passed away gave her 6 more years of happiness.
“Back in 2009 she received a kidney donation from a donor family that we recovered,” Tom Mone, CEO of One Legacy (the United States’ largest organ recovery agency), said after the singer's death. “The family made a specific request to make a direct donation to her because they knew of her need for a kidney. It was a pretty big miracle for her. And it gave her almost five or six years of life.”
3. Sarah Hyland
The Modern Family actress has been open about her struggle with kidney dysplasia, which started at the age of nine. She eventually required a kidney transplant in 2012, and her father donated his own.
"You know that family is going to be there for you no matter what," Hyland said after the surgery. "My dad gave me a freakin' kidney! But it's also the families that you create outside of your family. And you really find out what kind of people you're friends with. It was just amazing, and it really opened my eyes to see who's there for me and who's not."
4. Mandy Patinkin
Many people may be surprised to learn that in 1998, Mandy Patinkin underwent a corneal transplant. The actor suffers from corontinitis, which is a rare disease that destroys the corneas over time.
He required the transplant, or else he would have gone blind.
"It's an extraordinary gift when somebody gives their eye to someone so someone else can see," said Patinkin. "Let alone other organs to save a life. I could live if I was blind. People can't live without hearts, without lungs, without livers. Fifty-eight thousand people a year are waiting for various organs and ten people a day die waiting for organ donations."
According to Patinkin's doctor, the Princess Bride star was legally blind in one eye before the procedure.
"About a year ago we did a corneal transplant in his right eye, and he now sees better than 20-20 out of that eye," said Dr. Belmont at the time. "And his left eye is ready now. He's really legally blind in his left eye. So we are going to perform a corneal transplant and restore his vision."
Patinkin has since advocated for organ donation, saying he finds it "inexplicable" why someone would choose not to donate their organs.
"What are you gonna do after you go?" Patinkin asked. "What are you gonna do with the part? Let somebody improve the quality of someone's life. It's an extraordinary gift, and a wonderful way to live on. I started to think about what my religion says, which is a beautiful thing. Which is if you save one life you save the world."
5. Selena Gomez
The international pop star has always been open about living with Lupus, but it wasn't until after she received her transplant that she posted about it on social media.
"I’m very aware some of my fans had noticed I was laying low for part of the summer and questioning why I wasn’t promoting my new music, which I was extremely proud of. So I found out I needed to get a kidney transplant due to my Lupus and was recovering. It was what I needed to do for my overall health.
I honestly look forward to sharing with you, soon my journey through these past several months as I have always wanted to do with you. Until then I want to publicly thank my family and incredible team of doctors for everything they have done for me prior to and post-surgery.
And finally, there aren’t words to describe how I can possibly thank my beautiful friend Francia Raisa. She gave me the ultimate gift and sacrifice by donating her kidney to me. I am incredibly blessed. I love you so much sis."
6. Dick Cheney
The former vice president of the United States underwent a heart transplant in 2012. He had been on the transplant list for more than 20 months, and had suffered at least five heart attacks since 1978.
After the transplant, a short statement was released about the donor:
"Although the former vice president and his family do not know the identity of the donor, they will be forever grateful for this lifesaving gift," it said.
However, Cheney's transplant was not without controversy. Many people questioned whether or not he should have been the recipient, since he was 71 years old at the time. Some people saw it as him taking away someone else's chance, who may have been younger, to live a long life.
7. Larry Hagman
In 1995, Hagman underwent a liver transplant necessitated by heavy drinking leading to cancer. It only took two months from the time Hagman announced he had cancer to him receiving the transplant, but the hospital stressed that Hagman's fame did not speed up the process.
As for Hagman, he said he had no regrets about his drinking habits prior to his surgery.
"I drank for about 40 years and had a good time," he said. "I've beaten most of my buddies out in life, so the rest is kind of cream."
Hagman also said that his liver transplant part of the secret to his long marriage.
"I take a lot of vitamin pills, but I also had a liver transplant 17 years ago," he said in 2012, just a few months before his death. "I'm an 80-year-old man with the liver of a 44-year-old. That helps."
8. Tracy Morgan
Morgan's family found out about his kidney transplant at the same time as everyone else. The Saturday Night Live star and comedian opted not to tell his mom or brother that he needed the operation due to complications from diabetes.
"I just found out on the Internet last month that he had the operation," James Morgan said. "I really didn't believe it. I thought it was just a stunt or something. I thought maybe that's a misprint."
Morgan received the kidney from his ex-girlfriend, Tanisha Hall.
"I'd like to thank Tanisha for donating my kidney to me," Morgan said on the red carpet at the Screen Actors Guild Awards. "We were together, but then we separated. But she also gave me a kidney."
While it seems like a selfless act, there was a lot of speculation that Hall only donated her kidney as a way to get back with Morgan.
"I won't say that that's the only reason she gave him the kidney, but it was a major factor," a source alleged. "Tracy thanked her, and he's paying [the hospital] bills. But he's not interested in getting back with her."