Former Vice President Dick Cheney underwent a heart transplant Saturday, receiving the organ from an anonymous donor after waiting on the transplant list for 20 months.
Cheney, 71, was recovering Sunday in intensive care at Inova Fairfax Hospital in Falls Church, Va, where he went under the knife.
"Although the former vice president and his family do not know the identity of the donor, they will be forever grateful for the lifesaving gift," said his aide Kara Ahen in a written statement to the AP.
Former President George W. Bush said Sunday he was glad his vice president’s surgery was successful, according to Freddy Ford, Bush’s communications director.
"President Bush was in touch with the family yesterday," Ford said. "He and Mrs. Bush were very happy to hear that the surgery went well. They are keeping Vice President Cheney in their prayers for a full and speedy recovery."
Long known for his often-ailing health, Cheney has suffered five heart attacks in the past 25 years, most recently in 2010.
In 1988, the former Wyoming congressman underwent quadruple bypass surgery and had a pacemaker installed to monitor his heartbeat. The pacemaker had to be replaced in 2007.
After his fifth heart attack in 2010, Cheney had a small, battery-powered pump installed in his left ventricular.
Doctors Sunday also dismissed rumors that the former VP received special treatment when he received.
The transplant list is “a very regimented and fair process, and heavily policed,” said Dr. Allen Taylor, cardiology chief at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital.
The Republican presidential candidates responded to the news Saturday night as they awaited the results of the the Louisiana primary.
Newt Gingrich: “Callista and I hope that his recovery is peaceful, and we wish him and his family all of the best.”
Mitt Romney: “Ann and I send our rhought and prayers to Vice President Cheney for a fast and full recovery.”
Rick Santorum: “Karen and I would like to extend our thoughts and prayers to the vice president for a speedy recovery. I have known the vice president for many years and I know Vice President Cheney to be a fighter. We wish him well in his time of recuperation and we will pray for the entire Cheney family.”
Here are some of Cheney's major health issues and surgeries over the years:
1978 – First heart attack
1984 – Second heart attack
1988 – Third heart attack, quadruple bypass surgery, two artery-cleaning angioplasties
2000 – Fourth heart attack, coronary stent placed
2001 – Unstable angina, coronary angioplasty, stent and pacemaker installed
2005 – Six-hour surgery on legs to repair aneurysm
2006 – Congestive heart failure
2007 – Doctors discover venous thrombosis in left, lower leg, clot shrunk using blood thinning medication; atrial fibrillation
2008 – Pacemaker battery replaced
2009 – Two elective back surgeries to treat lumbar spinal stenosis
2010 – Fifth heart attack, small pump (left ventricular assist device) installed in left ventricular as a result
2012 – Heart transplant
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