Dick Cheney underwent a heart transplant in Virginia today, after suffering for years from cardiovascular issues. The 71 year old is said to be recovering well at the Intensive Care Unit of Inova Fairfax Hospital.
Aide Kara Ahern said in a written statement that, “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.”
The former Vice President has suffered 5 heart attacks since he was 37, the latest one in 2010. He has also had multiple surgeries, including in 1988 when he went through quadruple bypass surgery, two angioplasties, and an operation that implanted a pacemaker to monitor his heartbeat.
In 2005 and 2007 he underwent surgery for leg problems–an aneurysm and a clot in one of his veins. In 2010, following his last heart attack, Cheney underwent surgery to implant a LVAD (left ventricular assist device) which essentially took over work to keep his heart pumping. For many patients, this is the final step before requiring a heart transplant to stay alive, because their heart will no longer work on its own.
In 2011, Cheney related that he was having a hard time deciding on whether to go through with a heart transplant or not. He did say that soon he would, “have to make a decision at some point whether I want to go for a transplant.”
Cheney is one of over 5 million Americans that suffers from heart failure. This disease kills 57,000 Americans per year, but contributes to many more deaths. Also, more than 3,100 people are currently on the waiting list to receive a heart transplant, according to the United Network for Organ Sharing.
What else do you think can be done for the thousands of people on waiting lists for heart transplants?