Former vice president Dick Cheney finally underwent major heart surgery on Saturday after waiting more than 20 months on the transplant list, his office said.
Cheney, 71, suffered a long history of cardiovascular trouble including five heart attacks, before receiving the new organ from a mystery donor.
The Republican was recovering at the Intensive Care Unit of Inova Fairfax Hospital in Falls Church, Virginia, Saturday night, following surgery earlier in the day.
Long-suffering: Dick Cheney has a long history of health problems, including five heart attacks
His aide, Kara Ahern, confirmed the surgery, adding: ‘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’s health problems began at the age of 37 when he had his first heart attack. In 2010, after suffering his fifth, he had surgery to have a small pump installed to help his heart keep working.
It was one of the few steps left, short of a transplant, to stay alive in the face of what he acknowledged was ‘increasing congestive heart failure’.
The pump, called a left ventricular assist device, is mainly used for short periods to buy time for potential transplant candidates awaiting a donor organ.
The fact that doctors resorted to it illustrated the perilous condition he was in.
Public figure: Cheney served as former President George W. Bush's vice president for eight years, from 2001 until 2009
Transplant: was recovering at the Intensive Care Unit of Inova Fairfax Hospital in Falls Church, Virginia, Saturday night, following surgery earlier in the day
In July 2007, he had had a minor surgical procedure to replace a device that monitored his heartbeat.
Nearly 20 years earlier, in 1988, Cheney had had quadruple bypass surgery, and had two artery-clearing angioplasties and the operation to implant the device.
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 January 2011, Cheney said he was getting by on a battery-powered heart pump, which made it ‘awkward to walk around’.
Cheney served as former President George W. Bush's vice president for eight years, from 2001 until 2009.
He was a lightning rod for criticism during Bush's presidency, accused by opponents of often advocating a belligerent U.S. stance in world affairs during wars in Iraq and Afghanistan
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