WASHINGTON — Former Vice President Dick Cheney was recovering in a Virginia hospital after undergoing heart transplant surgery Saturday, a spokeswoman said.
Cheney was in the intensive care unit of Inova Fairfax Hospital in Falls Church, Va., a Washington suburb, his spokeswoman Kara Ahern said in an emailed statement.
The 71-year-old former vice president had been on a heart transplant list for more than 20 months, according to Ahern’s statement. Two years ago, Cheney had a left ventricular assist device implanted for treatment of end-stage heart failure.
“Although the former vice president and his family do not know the identity of the donor, they will be forever grateful for this life-saving gift,” Ahern said in the statement.
Cheney suffered a heart attack in 2010, his fifth one since the age of 37. He underwent bypass surgery in 1988, and has had two angioplasties to clear narrowed coronary arteries.
Doctors implanted a special pacemaker in his chest in 2001, and in 2008 they restored a normal heartbeat rhythm with electrical shock. He previously has been treated for an atrial fibrillation, an abnormal rhythm involving the upper chambers of the heart.
Cheney said in a NBC interview on Jan. 18, 2011, that he thought he’d have to decide on whether to have a heart transplant because of his medical history. At the time, he was getting by with a battery-powered heart pump, the Associated Press reported at the time.
Cheney was vice president in President George W. Bush’s administration from 2001 to 2009. He also was a Republican member of the House of Representatives and defense secretary under Bush’s father, former President George H.W. Bush.
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,” Ahern said.