Aide says Cheney had heart transplant

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Former Vice President Dick Cheney is recovering after having a heart transplant.

That's according to his office. It released a statement Saturday disclosing the surgery, and saying that Cheney has been on the transplant list for more than 20 months.

Aide Kara Ahern says the former vice president is recovering in the Intensive Care Unit of Inova Fairfax Hospital in Falls Church, Va., after undergoing the surgery. She says the former vice president does not know the heart donor's identity, and he and his family "will be forever grateful for this lifesaving gift."

More than 3,100 Americans currently are on the national waiting list for a heart transplant. Just over 2,300 heart transplants were performed last year and 330 people died while waiting.

Experts say the odds of survival are good. More than 70 percent of heart transplant recipients live at least five years, although survival is a bit lower for people over age 65. Cheney is 71.

Cheney suffered a heart attack in 2010, his fifth since the age of 37. He had bypass surgery in 1988, as well as two subsequent angioplasties to clear narrowed coronary arteries.

Heart failure kills 57,000 Americans a year and contributes to many more deaths.


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