Former Vice President Dick Cheney is recovering at a hospital in Virginia after receiving a heart transplant, according to his office.
Cheney is in the ICU at Inova Fairfax Hospital in Falls Church.
Cheney, 71, who served under former president George W. Bush, has had a long history of heart issues and has been on the waiting list for a cardiac transplant for over 20 months.
“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,” said aide Kara Ahern in a written statement.
Cheney had a heart attack back in 2010. It his his fifth since the age of 37. In that same year, he underwent surgery to have a pump installed to help his heart keep working.
The pump, a left ventricular assist device, is usually used as a stop-gap measure to buy time for those waiting for a transplant.
“I’ve gotten used to the various contraptions that are always with me, and I’m working and traveling, I’ve hunted a time or two, and I have some fishing planned,” Cheney wrote in his memoir released in 2011.
In July 2007, he had had a minor procedure done to replace a faulty device that monitored his heartbeat. Cheney had had quadruple bypass surgery in 1988 and had two artery-clearing angioplasties and the operation to implant the device.
Back in ’05, the former vice president had six hours of surgery on his legs to repair a type of aneurysm, and in March 2007, doctors discovered deep venous thrombosis in his left leg. An ultrasound performed one month later showed that the clot was getting smaller.
In January of last year, Cheney said he was utilizing a battery-operated heart pump, which made it “awkward to walk around.” He also said he hasn’t made a decision yet on a transplant, but that “the technology is getting better and better.”
At the time, Cheney said that he would “have to make a decision at some point whether I want to go for a transplant.”
Heart failure kills 57,000 Americans a year and contributes to many more deaths.
Cheney served as VP under Bush for eight years, from 2001 until 2009. He was the focus of much criticism during Bush’s presidency, accused by many of advocating a belligerent U.S. position in world affairs during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.