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cheney heart transplant
Former Vice President Dick Cheney has heart transplant
The 71-year-old has a long history of heart ailments
and had been on a waiting list for more than 20
Former Vice President Dick Cheney had a heart transplant Saturday morning after waiting
more than 20 months on a transplant list, his office reported.
Cheney, 71, received the organ from an anonymous donor and was recovering in the
intensive care unit of Inova Fairfax Hospital in Falls Church, Va., after the surgery.
"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," aide Kara Ahern said in a statement.
Cheney has battled a lifetime of heart disease, suffering his first of five heart attacks at
age 37 and the most recent one in 2010, after which he had a device surgically inserted
to assist blood flow through his heart.
The device, known as an LVAD, or left ventricular assist device, has been described as a
temporary therapy that provides a "bridge" to a transplant. The device was implanted in
Cheney in the same Virginia hospital where his transplant took place.
In July 2010, when the device was implanted, The Times reported that Cheney may not
have been a good candidate for a heart transplant, primarily because of his age. Because
of the scarcity of available hearts, surgeons typically prefer to reserve them for younger
patients with longer life expectancies.
There is no upper age limit for a heart transplant, the National Heart, Lung and Blood
Institute says on its website, though most transplant surgeries are done on patients
younger than 70.
Five months after he received the LVAD, a noticeably thinner Cheney said during an
interview on NBC's "Today" show that he would consider seeking a heart transplant.
"I'll have to make a decision at some point whether or not I want to go for a transplant,"
he said in January 2011. "But we haven't addressed that yet."
He underwent bypass surgery in 1988 and two subsequent angioplasty procedures to
clear narrowed coronary arteries.
Cheney, who served as vice president under George W. Bush from 2001 to 2009,
canceled a trip to Canada earlier this month, citing safety concerns.
The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute reported that about 88% of patients survive
the first year after transplant surgery and 75% survive for five years.
The number of active waiting-list candidates — those eligible to receive organs at any
given time — was 72,855 for all organs as of Saturday, according to the Organ
Procurement and Transplantation Network.