To millions of adoring fans around the world, it seems as if those in the celeb world are untouchable. People see their favorite celebs in a certain light, and it’s as though nothing will be able to strike them down. But contrary to what many people might think, celebs are human just like the rest of us. They’re prone to the same illnesses, the same struggles of daily life, and the same trials and tribulations.
Diseases and illnesses are indiscriminatory. We’re all prone to them and they can strike any of us down. Some suffer more than others. These 15 celebs have suffered a hell of a lot over the years in one way or another. When people think of serious health concerns, they tend to think of surgery. You can get minor surgery, and then there’s major surgery. Nothing screams major surgery like an organ transplant. Something serious must be going on in order for someone to have to have an organ transplant. Often, that something serious is a life-threatening illness. These 15 celebs have all gone through the ordeal of having an organ transplant. For most of them, it turned out to be necessary, life-saving procedures. There are also some on this list who have been on the other side of an organ transplant and haven’t been the recipients. These are 15 celebrity figures you didn’t know have had an organ transplant.
15 Tracy Morgan
It really riles some people up when they learn a person’s had an organ transplant because of their own bad habits. There are people all over the world in need of organs who didn’t get themselves into bad health, and many people feel they’re more deserving than celebs who ruin their own organs due to bad choices.
Tracy Morgan has appeared in numerous films and TV shows as an actor and comedian. His comedic prowess is why millions of people adore him, but what happened to him in 2010 was no laughing matter. Morgan had to have a kidney transplant. He’s said that it was due to his diabetes and alcohol abuse. For years Tracy struggled with alcohol addiction. He also had diabetes, which got worse because he just didn’t take the illness seriously. Knowing this, when news broke that he had to have a kidney transplant, he didn’t get a whole lot of sympathy.
14 Natasha Richardson
English stage and screen actress Natasha Richardson had a very successful career, acquiring a wide-ranging filmography and list of achievements. But the majority of people would probably have known Natasha for being the wife of Liam Neeson. They were married for 15 years, and their relationship was rock-solid. But things came crashing down after Natasha suffered a horrific accident that proved to be fatal. She died after having a skiing accident in Canada. She suffered an epidural hematoma, bleeding in the brain, and there was nothing anyone could do. When she was taken off life support, of course everyone was distraught. But her loved ones must have found solace in the fact that she donated her organs. In doing so, she apparently saved the lives of three other people. Natasha spent her time trying to help people, getting involved in various charities. It was only natural that her organs were donated – she would have wanted to help people.
13 George Lopez
American comedian and actor George Lopez achieved fame for producing and starring in his own sitcom. He’s a big hit amongst the Latino community because he breaks down barriers and touches on some important issues regarding Mexican-American relations. He’s deemed to be one of the most influential Hispanic celebs of all time.
The saying goes that behind every successful man is a successful woman. That certainly holds true in George Lopez’s case. There was one woman who remained by his side while he was striving to reach the top. That woman was his wife Ann Serrano. But she did more than just provide support. She gave him a kidney. Due to a genetic condition, George’s kidneys began to deteriorate. His wife came to the rescue, and the kidney transplant was a success. He spoke about the condition on his sitcom in an effort to make more people aware of what he and others have gone through. Unfortunately, George and his wife have separated, but Ann will always be a part of him, literally.
12 Lucy Davis
British actress Lucy Davis is best known for her comedic prowess. She’s been wowing British audiences for decades, but this year was thrust onto the world stage when she landed a role in Wonder Woman. Another role which landed her plenty of plaudits was her role in Pride and Prejudice. But it, and all subsequent roles, very nearly didn’t happen. She had a routine medical examination and it was discovered that Lucy had kidney failure. Her mom donated a kidney to her, and Lucy underwent a successful transplant. Well, at least it was deemed to be successful at the time. You just never know how the body’s going to respond to a new kidney, whether it’s going to accept it or reject it. Around a decade later, Lucy again experienced kidney failure. Thankfully this time around she recovered and didn’t need another transplant. During her recovery, Lucy then developed diabetes. But she’s remained positive, and is continuing to live her life to the fullest.
11 Steve Jobs
Steve Jobs is famous for being the founder of Apple, and numerous other business ventures and inventions that he’s responsible for. He’s sadly no longer with us, but his legacy will live on. In 2003, he discovered that he had a pancreatic tumor. He managed to survive for eight more years as he went about building his empire, before his lungs failed due to the tumor, and he passed away. He died as a result of his pancreatic cancer. But Jobs also battled with many other health problems during the last few years of his life. In 2009, he had a real health scare when he had liver problems and therefore needed to have a liver transplant. He went under the knife at Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare and the University of Tennessee Health Science Center in 2009. The transplant was a success, and it’s thought that he left the hospital a $40 million donation that it received after his death.
10 Selena Gomez
Here’s probably the most high-profile person on this list to have had an organ transplant. Selena Gomez – well, she doesn’t really need an introduction, does she? She’s known, loved, and adored by the masses, and is a superstar in every way. It’s amazing to think that she’s still only 25 – it seems as if she’s been around forever, making headlines and wowing fans with her music. She made headlines recently too in the last few months, and not because of her music. Selena underwent a kidney transplant. She disappeared from the public eye for a few months, withdrew from all of her prior commitments, and people were beginning to wonder what the hell had happened. What happened was that she went under the knife. She revealed all when she posted a pic of herself on Instagram once the operation had been completed. Selena’s still in recovery and is still taking it easy.
9 Jerry Orbach
It might actually surprise a lot of you to know that Jerry Orbach is no longer with us. The legendary actor died in 2004 at the age of 69. I say it might surprise a lot of people because Jerry’s still seen on our screens across the world pretty much on a daily basis. People will never get bored of that Law and Order series. Jerry Orbach died due to prostate cancer. He battled the disease for over a decade before finally succumbing to it. It came as an almighty shock because he didn’t reveal he had cancer until a week before his death. Jerry Orbach didn’t have someone else’s organs transplanted into him. He was an organ donor, and had his organs transplanted into someone else. But he didn’t donate his heart, lungs etc. He actually donated his eyes. Why his eyes specifically? Because Jerry had perfect vision his entire life. It was something he was proud of and so wanted someone else to make use of his eyes when he was gone. His wish was granted and two people received Jerry’s corneas.
8 Amy Purdy
Amy Purdy probably doesn’t want sympathy, but she has had it really tough. Despite her illnesses, she’s still managed to achieve what most people wouldn’t achieve in a lifetime. She’s an actress, model, not to mention a Paralympian and a professional snowboarder. She’s also into fashion, and is a motivational speaker and author.
Amy’s health problems began when she was 19. She contracted a form of bacterial meningitis. It couldn’t be controlled and consequently had a massive effect on her health. The bacteria attacked her circulatory system where it spread to vital organs. This resulted in Amy developing septicemia. It was seriously advanced, and Amy was given only a 2% chance of survival. But the fighter that she is, she pulled through. She had both legs amputated, lost her spleen, and both kidneys. Her dad donated a kidney, and after years of intensive treatment, Amy survived and has a new lease of life.
7 Sarah Hyland
Sarah Hyland was always going to be an actress. Her parents were actors, and so naturally she got the acting bug and decided to follow suit. She’s not an A-lister by any stretch of the imagination, but has had a steady career getting acting gigs here and there. But she’s still only 27 and so has plenty of time to land her breakthrough role. But at the moment, she must be happy to just be alive. That’s because from a young age, Sarah has had to contend with serious health concerns. From the moment she was born, she had kidney dysplasia, which is the improper development of the kidneys from fetal stage. It meant that her kidneys gradually deteriorated, and so at the age of 22, she had to have a transplant. Her dad donated his kidney to her. She had a successful transplant, but that wasn’t the end of her health woes. She’s had several other surgeries, is constantly going for checkups, and is on medication.
6 Sean Elliot
Having an illness that’s so bad it causes one of your organs to fail must be seriously tough to deal with for any professional. Most of those on this list belong to the acting or music professions, and so trying to keep their careers on track must still have caused them a load of worry. But imagine being a professional sportsman. That’s one career that must be seriously affected if a person experiences organ failure. Sean Elliot played in the NBA for over a decade as a small forward and enjoyed a stellar career. But amazingly, during the 1998-99 season, the season in which his team won the NBA championship, Elliot dropped a bombshell. He announced he’d been playing the majority of the season while suffering kidney disease. After the championship run he had a kidney transplant, donated to him by his older brother. He actually returned to action after the transplant and returned for a couple more seasons before calling it a day.
5 Francia Raisa
Who’s the person Selena Gomez calls her guardian angel, who donated a kidney to the singing sensation? Normally when it comes to organ donors, they’re siblings or parents. But when Selena went under the knife, it was Francia Raisa who donated a kidney to her. Not sure who she is? Francia is a celeb in her own right, and has had a successful career as an actress. She’s starred in Bring It On: All or Nothing and The Secret Life of the American Teenager, and has many other film credits to her name. Francia and Selena have been best buddies for around nine years. They’re inseparable. So, when Selena was suffering from lupus – the reason for her kidney transplant, by the way – Francia didn’t think twice about getting tested and donating a kidney to her. Here’s what Francia had said about Selena: "I am obsessed with every memory we've built in the last 8 years and the ones we have yet to create. I am so grateful that God put you in my life when he did... I learn so much from you and I'm so so so proud of you.”
4 Natalie Cole
Natalie Cole was a singer-songwriter and actress. She had plenty of success, but also faced plenty of trials and tribulations, most of which were her own doing. She sold 30 million records, but there was a point in her career where everything she tried her hand at would fail miserably, and this time it coincided with her drug use. The money wasn’t coming in through her career, so she actually turned to selling herself to fund her drug habit. Because of her drug habit, her life spiralled out of control. She also had many major health problems. Natalie had hepatitis C. For those of you who think this may have been because of her drug use, you’d be right. She got the disease due to her poor hygiene when using needles during her period on drugs. She eventually experienced kidney failure and received a new kidney. After the kidney transplant, Natalie got idiopathic pulmonary arterial hypertension, and this contributed to her early demise.
3 David Crosby
American singer-songwriter and guitarist David Crosby has been around for many years. The guy’s been around doing his thing and wowing audiences since 1964, and he’s still going strong. But it certainly hasn’t been a smooth ride; it’s been a journey filled with controversy and health problems. Like a lot of musicians, David Crosby lived that whole rock and roll lifestyle and he lived it to the max. He was heavily into drinking and drugs, and this caused numerous problems for Crosby: problems with the law and many health concerns. Due to all the alcohol he was consuming, it wouldn’t surprise too many of you to know that his liver was shot to pieces. It was in a seriously bad state. But that wasn’t due to alcohol alone. Crosby had hepatitis C, and it was because of this that he needed a liver transplant. Phil Collins paid for his transplant and the subsequent treatment. This didn’t go down too well with a lot of people due to Crosby’s drink and drug use.
2 Aron Eisenberg
If you’re going to know Aron Eisenberg, you probably know him because of his role in Star Trek. Sure, he’s not the best actor on this list, but he has a fair few credits to his name. Every movie he stars in is a blessing – at least that’s how he probably looks at things. That’s because life didn’t start out too great for Aron. Pretty much from the moment he was born, it was known that he was going to have to have a kidney transplant. That’s because he was born with just one partially functioning kidney. Understandably this caused plenty of health problems and greatly affected his life. At 17, he finally had that all-important kidney transplant. But that wasn’t the only time Aron had an organ transplant. Once he had that kidney transplant, he must have thought all his problems were over. But he got kidney failure in 2015. He had to have another transplant.
1 Shelley Fabares
Shelley Fabares got into the acting profession at the tender age of three and has gone on to have quite the career. Her glittering career has included plenty of acting gigs, and a stint as a singer too. Shelley lives to perform, and it’s something she’s been doing time and time again throughout her many years in the limelight. But if it wasn’t for an organ transplant, Shelley’s career would have been cut tragically short in 2000. There weren’t many details divulged about Shelley’s operation and why she had to have the organ transplant. It was, however, revealed that Shelley had autoimmune hepatitis. This is where the body attacks its own liver cells causing them to become inflamed. This leads to liver inflammation, and in worst case scenarios, it means a liver transplant is a must. Shelley had the life-saving transplant, and has enjoyed many happy years since then.