Video: Dick Cheney recovering after heart transplant

posted at 11:58 am on March 25, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

The news about Dick Cheney’s heart transplant came as a surprise to me last night, and I suspect to most people. His cardiac disease has been well known in a general sense, but not the decision to seek a transplant. Cheney waited twenty months for the transplant, and has a long road to recovery ahead at 71 years of age:

The Washington Post provides more specifics:

In July 2010, Cheney announced that a small left ventricular assist device (LVAD) had been implanted to help treat congestive heart failure. The device, which included an external system controller, required two rechargeable batteries to help pump blood throughout the body. A few months laterCheney appeared noticeably thinner at the groundbreaking for the George W. Bush Presidential Center in Texas.

“The [heart pump] technology was originally developed to provide a transition,”Cheney told NBC News in an interview in August, “to take somebody who’s reached the point where they needed a transplant, but a transplant wouldn’t immediately be available, so they put this in as a temporary measure.”

Cheney said in the interview that he hadn’t decided whether to seek a heart transplant.

Our family is well versed in transplant issues; my wife has had four transplants — three kidney transplants and a pancreas transplant.  The pancreas from 2005 and the kidney from 2007 are still functioning well, which has made the First Mate healthier than perhaps at any other time of our marriage.  She no longer has diabetes and her blood-filtering functions are almost normal, which are very large blessings indeed.

However, those come with tradeoffs.  The need to take immunosuppressive medication creates a number of side effects that have to be carefully managed, especially in the first few weeks when rejection episodes are most likely.  The body produces antibodies to attack foreign tissue, and the immune system has to be dialed down to keep that from happening with the transplanted organ — but this also makes a recipient more likely to get sick or have sustained infections unless the dosages are carefully calibrated, and that has to be done on an individual basis.  It’s very much like trading a deadly condition for a chronic but manageable disease, and that continues for the rest of the life of the recipient.  At 71, that will be a harder adjustment for Cheney and his family, but obviously a worthwhile one.

We’ll keep the former VP and his family in our prayers today, and I’m sure the readers of Hot Air will do the same.

Addendum: A few weeks ago, the media reported a breakthrough on transplants that involved using the adult stem cells of the donor to treat the recipient and change the body’s immune system so that immunosupression would no longer be necessary.  I spoke with the First Mate’s nephrologist, who runs the transplant program at the University of Minnesota, and he told us that this development was still very experimental and had yet to be proven effective in human transplants.  He’s cautiously optimistic, but as a useful therapy, that’s still years away.

Update: Just to give people an idea of how tricky immunosuppression can be, the First Mate nearly died three years ago from septicemia resulting from an undiscovered bladder infection, and that was when her transplants and immunosuppression had been stable for at least two years.


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A fairly clean and troll free thread. Funny. Me thinks not only do you fear Mr. Cheney, you fear that glorious hammer. As well you should.

To the six of you, may Mr Cheney continue to enjoy that place in your hearts and minds for all of eternity. Sorry I couldn’t have been here today for this thread. Some other time. Count on it.

0bamaderangementsyndrom
Uppereastside
LevStrauss
KeninCT
liberal4life
easyt65

Bmore on March 26, 2012 at 1:46 AM

Such laziness by the news media. There has to have previously been a heart in the patient for it to be a transplant. This is Dick’s first heart so it is actually an implant.

LevStrauss on March 25, 2012 at 6:26 PM

When are you getting yours?

itsspideyman on March 25, 2012 at 8:01 PM

+ 1 million! Lol!

Susanboo on March 26, 2012 at 1:47 AM

Oh, except for you KeninCT, your an utter disgrace and not worth my effort. Truly worthless that.

Bmore on March 26, 2012 at 1:54 AM

mama told me to keep my mouth shut if I have nothing good to say. I think I may explode any minute from now

liberal4life on March 25, 2012 at 8:52 PM

Please don’t make a mess when you do.

RINO in Name Only on March 26, 2012 at 2:00 AM

God Bless Vice President Cheney !!

All the talk about him being ‘past’ the age limit…

HE WAS THE VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA PEOPLE !!!!!! THAT gives him EXTRA privileges over other people !!! Does anyone think that Clinton wouldn’t get one if he was 71 years old, or George Bush ??? It is called RESPECT for his service to our GREAT country !!! so, shush !!!

My Honey had a lung transplant in 2000… only received 1 lung – it never inflated… I did NOT get to bring him home from University of Michigan Hospital… WORST day of my life. He was only 45 years old. HE WAS MY HONEY.. NEEDED MORE years together… I am praying for Vice President Cheney’s FULL recovery!!!!

kathyk

kennedyk49 on March 26, 2012 at 2:30 AM

kennedyk49 on March 26, 2012 at 2:30 AM

My sympathy on your loss.

I join my prayers with yours and others for a full and speedy recovery for VP Cheney.

I also extend my sympathy – and gratitude – to the donor’s family.

Flora Duh on March 26, 2012 at 2:57 AM

kathyk

kennedyk49 on March 26, 2012 at 2:30 AM

My sympathy on your loss.

I join my prayers with yours and others for a full and speedy recovery for VP Cheney.

I also extend my sympathy – and gratitude – to the donor’s family.

Flora Duh on March 26, 2012 at 2:57 AM

Here, too…

Gohawgs on March 26, 2012 at 3:43 AM

Dick Cheney recovering after heart transplant

Just in time to become our nomineee during the upcoming brokered convention…

Gohawgs on March 26, 2012 at 3:44 AM

God Bless Vice President Cheney, his family and loved ones, and God bless you and your wife, Ed.

American Elephant on March 26, 2012 at 5:31 AM

God Bless Dick Cheney and I hope he recovers fully from the transplant.
I cannot believe the number os hateful comments I have seen on other sites about Dick Cheney.

kathyk-My deepest sympathy on the loss of your loved one in 2000. It must have been an awful time for you and your family. Carol

carolt2 on March 26, 2012 at 7:06 AM

mama told me to keep my mouth shut if I have nothing good to say. I think I may explode any minute from now

liberal4life on March 25, 2012 at 8:52 PM

This isn’t surprising. People like you are full of petty and irrational hatreds.

zoyclem on March 26, 2012 at 7:12 AM

Flora Duh on March 26, 2012 at 2:57 AM

Here, too…

Gohawgs on March 26, 2012 at 3:43 AM

And here.

hawkdriver on March 26, 2012 at 7:31 AM

mama told me to keep my mouth shut if I have nothing good to say. I think I may explode any minute from now

liberal4life on March 25, 2012 at 8:52 PM

I honestly hope you keep this crap up so that you will be gone the next time the trolls are winnowed out of existence.

Happy Nomad on March 26, 2012 at 7:41 AM

mama told me to keep my mouth shut if I have nothing good to say. I think I may explode any minute from now
 
liberal4life on March 25, 2012 at 8:52 PM

 
You must have grown up thinking your mother was mute.
 
itsspideyman on March 25, 2012 at 9:17 PM

 
Ha.

rogerb on March 26, 2012 at 7:50 AM

You go, Darth Cheney (affectionately tagged). I don’t care whose heart beats in your chest, as long as it keeps thumping.

swinia sutki on March 26, 2012 at 8:52 AM

Some are complaining that 71 is too old for a heart transplant. Nonsense. They are doing heart valve replacement on 97 and 100 year old people. Besides, if you are 65, 71 is not old at all.

Others are complaining Cheney must have jumped to the head of the line. More nonsense. He was on the list for 20 months and had a aux heart pump installed. The WaPo story this morning said deaths of people with an aux pump installed and on the wait list has a mortality rate in the single digits before getting a heart. Dick Cheney waited his turn like everyone else.

I wish him and his family a speedy recovery and the trolls who are attacking Cheney on multiple forums ample time to explain their vileness to all who will listen.

RickCaird on March 26, 2012 at 3:38 PM

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