Former vice president Dick Cheney, who has suffered five heart attacks since his late 30s, underwent a heart transplant Saturday after more than 20 months on a transplant list, according to his office.
“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,” Cheney aide Kara Ahern said in a statement issued Saturday night. Ahern said Cheney “is thankful to the teams of doctors and other medical professionals at Inova Fairfax and George Washington University Hospital for their continued outstanding care.”
Cheney, 71, was recovering Saturday in the Intensive Care Unit of Inova Fairfax Hospital in Falls Church, Ahern said.
Cheney, who served as vice president under President George W. Bush from 2001 to 2009, suffered his first heart attack when he was 37 years old. In 1988, Cheney underwent quadruple-bypass surgery and two artery-clearing angioplasties and had a heart monitoring device implanted. The device was removed in 2007.
In 2005, Cheney had six hours of surgery on his legs to repair a kind of aneurysm, and in March 2007, doctors discovered deep venous thrombosis in his left lower leg. An ultrasound a month later showed the clot was getting smaller.In July 2010, Cheney announced that he had a small Left Ventricular Assist Device (LVAD) implanted to help treat congestive heart failure. The device, which included an external system controller, required two rechargeable batteries to help pump blood throughout the body. A few months later Cheney appeared noticeably thinner at the groundbreaking for the George W. Bush Presidential Center in Texas.
“The [heart pump] technology was originally developed to provide a transition,” Cheney told NBC News in an interview last August, “to take somebody who’s reached the point where they needed a transplant but a transplant wouldn’t immediately be available, so they put this in as a temporary measure.”