List of notable organ transplant donors and recipients

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This list of notable organ transplant donors and recipients includes people who were the first to undergo certain organ transplant procedures or were people who made significant contributions to their chosen field and who have either donated or received an organ transplant at some point in their lives, as confirmed by public information.

Survival statistics

Survival statistics depend greatly on the age of donor, age of recipient, skill of the transplant center, compliance of the recipient, whether the organ came from a living or cadaveric donor and overall health of the recipient. Median survival rates can be quite misleading, especially for the relatively small sample that is available for these organs. Survival rates improve almost yearly, due to improved techniques and medications. This example is from the United Network of Organ Sharing (UNOS), the USA umbrella organization for transplant centers. Up-to-date data can be obtained from the UNOS website.

Transplant Type Median survival
Liver transplant 16 years
Heart transplant 10 years
Kidney transplant 16 years

Notable first procedures

Procedure Doctor in charge of transplant Name of recipient Organ donated by Comments Date of transplant Survival Reference
First corneal transplant Eduard Zirm Alois Glogar Karl Brauer December 7, 1905 [1]
First human kidney transplant Sir Michael Woodruff and James A Ross Anonymous 49-year old man Recipient's twin brother The donor resumed work 3 weeks after the operation; the patient returned to work after 15 weeks. They both lived for a further 6 years before dying from an unrelated disease. October 30, 1960 [2]
First human kidney transplant Boston, Massachusetts American man His identical twin brother 1954
First human liver transplant Thomas Starzl First transplant was unsuccessful. The first successful liver transplant was performed by Dr. Starzl four years later. 1963 [3]
First human lung transplant James D. Hardy First transplant in unsuccessful. The first successful lung transplant was performed in 1983 by Joel Cooper. 1963 [3]
First human heart transplant Christiaan Barnard Louis Washkansky Denise Darvall Transplant was only good for 18 days. Washkansky died on December 21, 1967 December 3, 1967 18 days, [4]
First human pancreas transplant Richard Lillehei and William Kelly 1968 [3]
First human hand transplant Earl Owen and Jean-Michel Dubernard Clint Hallam The transplanted hand was removed at request of recipient after about two and a half years on February 2, 2001. September 23, 1998 [5]
First partial human face transplant Jean-Michel Dubernard and Bernard Devauchelle Isabelle Dinoire November 27, 2005 [6][7]

Notable recipients

Corneal transplant

Name Life Comments Date of transplant Survival Reference
Mandy Patinkin (1952 –) Actor. He suffered from keratoconus, a degenerative eye disease, in the mid-1990s. This led to two corneal transplants; his right cornea in 1997, and his left in 1998. 1997, 1998 [8]

Heart transplants

Name Life Comments Date of transplant Survival Reference
Robert Altman (1925 – 2006) Film Director. Announced the transplant at the 78th Academy Awards in 2005 while accepting his Lifetime Achievement Oscar. Altman said, "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." 1995 11 years [9]
Robert P. Casey (1932 – 2000) 41st Governor of Pennsylvania. Announced that he needed a rare heart/liver transplant due to a rare condition that allowed the body's antibodies to attack vital organs. Shortly after the announcement, Casey received the heart and liver from a 35-year old African-American male who was killed in an auto accident near Erie, Pennsylvania. The short time between the announcement and the operation lead to accusations that Casey was secretly placed on the top of the waiting list, along with sparking an urban legend that the donor was "killed" by the Pennsylvania State Police in order to "harvest" the organs. 1993 6 years

Kidney transplants

Name Life Comments Date of transplant Survival Reference
Steven Cojocaru (1965 –) Fashion critic and member of Entertainment Tonight. In November 2004 he announced that he was suffering from polycystic kidney disease and would require a kidney transplant. He underwent transplant surgery on January 14, 2005, after his friend Abby Finer donated one of her kidneys. Later, the kidney became infected by a virus, and in June 2005 he underwent a second operation to have the new kidney removed. On August 17, he announced that his body was free of the viral infection and that he was ready to find a new transplant. He then received a second kidney transplant, which was donated by his mother. 2005, 2005 [10][11]
Gary Coleman (1968 –) Actor who played Arnold on Diff'rent Strokes. Received two separate kidney transplants, one in 1973 and another in 1984. [12]
Lucy Davis (1973 –) Actress best known for playing the character Dawn Tinsley in the BBC comedy, The Office. Kidney received in 1997, which was donated by her mother. 1997 [13]
Aron Eisenberg (1969 –) Actor, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine [14]
Sean Elliott (1968 –) NBA basketball star. The kidney was donated by his brother. Elliott made history by returning to play in the NBA following his surgery. August 16, 1999 [15]
Jennifer Harman (1964 –) Poker player; only woman to win two open events in the World Series of Poker. Had two separate kidney transplants. [16]
Ken Howard (1944 –) Tony-winning actor who is best known for his role in the television show The White Shadow as basketball coach and former Chicago Bulls player, Ken Reeves. 2000 [17]
Jimmy Little (1937 –) Australian country/rock artist. February 2004 [18]
Jonah Lomu (1975 –) New Zealand All Blacks rugby player. The kidney was donated by Wellington radio presenter Grant Kereama. Lomu came back to professional rugby in 2005, though not with his past success. July 28, 2004 [19]
George Lopez (1961 –) Actor-Comedian and star of The George Lopez Show. Kidney transplant from his wife, Ann Lopez in April 2005 April 2005 [20]
Alonzo Mourning (1970 –) NBA basketball star. Like Elliott, Mourning returned to play in the NBA following his surgery, and is currently playing. December 19, 2003 [21]
Kerry Packer (1937 – 2005) His long-serving helicopter pilot, Nick Ross, donated one of his own kidneys to Packer for transplantation. 2000 Five years [22]
Charles Perkins (1936 – 2000) Australian soccer player, Aboriginal activist and government minister. At death was the world's longest surviving kidney transplant survivor 1972 28 years [23][24]
Billy Preston (1946 – 2006) An American soul musician from Houston, Texas, raised mostly in Los Angeles, California. 2002 4 years
Ron Springs (1956 – ) Former NFL player. Kidney donated by former Dallas Cowboys teammate Everson Walls. February 28, 2007 [25]

Liver transplants

Name Life Comments Date of transplant Survival Reference
George Best (1946 – 2005) British football player and alcoholic. July 30, 2002 Three years [26]
Robert P. Casey (1932 – 2000) 41st Governor of Pennsylvania. Received new liver during same operation in which he received a new heart. 1993 6 years
David Crosby (1941 –) Rock-folk singer November 1994 [27][28][29]
Shelley Fabares (1944 –) Actress and singer who starred on the sitcom Coach. 2000 [30]
Freddy Fender (1937–2006) A country, and rock and roll musician. Diagnosed with hepatitis C in 2000. 2004 [31][32][33]
"Superstar" Billy Graham (1943—) A former professional wrestler. Had a liver transplant after his was destroyed by hepatitis C, which he suspects was caught through blood spilt during a match. [31][34]
Larry Hagman (1931 –) Actor, best known for playing J.R. Ewing on the soap opera Dallas 1995 [35]
Evel Knievel (1938 –) A stuntperson, best known for his public displays of long distance, high-altitude motorcycle jumping. Had a liver transplant as a result of hepatitis C, which he believed was contracted during an operation. [31][36]
Chris Klug (1972 –) Professional snowboarder who received a liver transplant treat Primary sclerosing cholangitis. Went on to compete in the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. This was the first and so far only time a transplantee had competed in the Olympics, either winter or summer. 2000 [37]
Phil Lesh (1940—) A musician and founder member of rock band Grateful Dead, in which he played bass guitar. He was diagnosed with hepatitis C in 1992. 1998 [31][38]
Linda Lovelace (1949–2002) A pornographic actress, notable for the 1972 film Deep Throat. She contracted hepatitis C from a blood transfusion after a car accident in 1969. 1987 15 years [31][39]
Mickey Mantle (1931 – 1995) Hall of Fame baseball player. Mantle died a couple of months later of liver cancer, which had spread to his new liver 1995 Less than 1 year [40]
Jim Nabors (1930 –) Actor-singer-comedian, best known for playing Gomer Pyle in the sitcom of the same name 1994 [41]

Notable donors

Name Life Comments Organ donated Date of transplant Survival Reference
Dick Cass President of the Baltimore Ravens football team. Donated kidney to law school friend Kidney [42]
Virginia Postrel (1960 – ) Donated kidney to her friend Sally Satel Kidney [43][44]
Oscar Robertson (1938 – ) Basketball Hall of Famer. Donated kidney to his daughter Tia. Kidney 1997 [45]
Ana Serrano Writer, and producer. Donated kidney to husband George Lopez Kidney April 2005 [46]
Everson Walls (1959 – ) Former NFL player. Donated kidney to former Dallas Cowboys teammate Ron Springs. Kidney February 28, 2007 [25]


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  5. Surgeons sever transplant hand. BBC News (February 3, 2001). Retrieved on December 28, 2006.
  6. Woman has first face transplant. BBC News (November 30, 2005). Retrieved on December 28, 2006.
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  11. Link to article about Cojo
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  25. 25.0 25.1 "Ex-Cowboy Walls gives kidney to former teammate". Associated Press. March 1, 2007.
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  27. Sachs, Andrea. Rock survivor. Time Magazine (October 22, 2006). Retrieved on December 28, 2006.
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  29. Who2 link
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  32. Dodson, Brad (2002). "Resurrected Days, Resurrected Nights". Hepatitis Magazine. Retrieved 2006-10-04. Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help)
  33. Associated Press (2006-08-02). "Freddy Fender Has Incurable Cancer". ABC News. Retrieved 2006-10-04. Check date values in: |date= (help)
  34. Martin, Adam (2004-04-20). "Superstar Billy Graham interview talks about steroids, his health issues, Flair and current scene". Wrestling Observer. Retrieved 2006-10-04. Check date values in: |date= (help)
  35. Moran, Reed. Larry Hagman hatches plot for kidney health. USA Today (March 9, 2001). Retrieved on December 28, 2006.
  36. "Milestones". TIME Magazine. 1999-02-01. Retrieved 2006-10-04. Check date values in: |date= (help)
  37. Information about liver transplant from Chris Klug's website
  38. Gatta, John Patrick (2001-04-18). "New Lesh On Life". Pittsburgh City Paper. Retrieved 2006-10-04. Check date values in: |date= (help)
  39. Briggs, Joe Bob (2002-04-25). "Linda's Life". National Review Online. Retrieved 2006-10-04. Check date values in: |date= (help)
  40. Mickey Mantle transplant: battling perceptions of preferential treatment. (July 1995). Retrieved on December 28, 2006.
  41. Jim Nabors Biography. Yahoo! Movies. Retrieved on December 28, 2006.
  42. Washington Post article on donation
  43. Website of Postrel
  44. Column by Sally Satel on receiving donated organ
  45. Flatter, Ron. "ESPN Classic – Oscar defined the triple-double". Retrieved 2007-01-31.
  46. FOX news article