Dick Cheney Gets Heart Transplant

Dick Cheney had a heart transplant today at Inova Fairfax Hospital in Falls Church, Va. He's been on the list for 20 months.

Heads-Up: Comments calling for his demise will be deleted. It's bad form and probably bad karma.

Comments critical of his politics and actions as Vice President are fine, if expressed without name-calling.

The 2011 cost of a heart transplant is $1 million. Is 20 months a normal wait time? Here are the current guidelines for allocation of thoracic organs (heart and lungs.)

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    The jokes... (5.00 / 2) (#4)
    by Repack Rider on Sat Mar 24, 2012 at 08:38:21 PM EST
    The jokes write themselves.

    6 months to 3 years... (5.00 / 3) (#5)
    by MileHi Hawkeye on Sat Mar 24, 2012 at 08:47:41 PM EST
    is the general wait time for an heart transplant, J.  It varies due to quite a number of factors, including organ type, "status type" (graveness of condition), region, blood type and other matching factors.  About 5,000 people are waiting for a heart transplant at any given time.    

    I'm glad to see that he at least had to be on the list and wait his turn as opposed to buying one.  

    At 71, its not going to be a picnic.  I've got 20+ years on him plus a perfect match and it still kicks my arse on a very regular basis after 2+ years.

    How does it (none / 0) (#9)
    by gyrfalcon on Sat Mar 24, 2012 at 10:06:12 PM EST
    "kick your arse," if you don't mind explaining?

    I'm slightly haunted by this stuff because I had a cousin who committed suicide a few years ago rather than have the heart transplant he was told he had to have, and I'm still not sure why he did that. (Yes, he was clearly badly depressed, but still.)


    Without venturing into TMI... (5.00 / 2) (#34)
    by MileHi Hawkeye on Sun Mar 25, 2012 at 01:20:12 PM EST
    territory, physically its the direct and secondary effects of the drugs.  From constantly battling infections of one sort or another to the many very unpleasant effects of long-term steroid use to more frequent and severe headaches/stomach problems in my case.  

    Then there's the mental toll of not knowing if you'll be able to get out of bed from one day to another, being tied to strict meal and medication times, and freaking out about every little pain or twinge that is even the tiniest bit out of the ordinary.  

    Sorry about your cousin.  I doubt if you'll ever come to understand the reason for that.  Transplant patients are at a greatly increased risk of depression.  Loss of independence, not wanting to be a burden, the realization that your body has let you down, fear of the unknown, not feeling worthy of getting an organ or just being tired of being sick and/or in pain all the time.  The reasons are as varied as the individuals and hard to understand, especially from the outside looking in.  


    Certainly, at a time like this, we ... (5.00 / 2) (#7)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Sat Mar 24, 2012 at 09:37:18 PM EST
    ... as liberals, progressives, moderates or whatever can afford to be civil and humane, and grant the Cheney family the grace and good will that we would no doubt wish to be accorded to ourselves, were it our loved one facing this sort of life-threatening situation.

    Aloha, Mr. Cheney. Get well soon.

    That's more than I'm capable of (5.00 / 3) (#10)
    by gyrfalcon on Sat Mar 24, 2012 at 10:06:56 PM EST
    I can refrain from saying out loud or typing what my brain keeps saying, but that's my limit.

    The Cheney Family (none / 0) (#39)
    by samsguy18 on Sun Mar 25, 2012 at 02:21:19 PM EST
    has travelled a very long and difficult journey...
    I wish Mr Cheney and his family all the best.

    I wonder if, in all the years that Dick (5.00 / 3) (#14)
    by Anne on Sat Mar 24, 2012 at 10:29:12 PM EST
    Cheney has been trying to stay one step ahead of the Grim Reaper, he ever encountered others in not such fortunate economic circumstances, who were losing or lost their battles due to the inequities that exist within the private insurance industry, or due to lack of insurance.  People with spouses and siblings and children who want desperately to save their loved one, but who are forced to settle for a comfortable death, or who sacrifice their own and their families' futures trying to stay alive.

    I'm sure the Cheney family is happy that their loved one has been given a fighting chance at more years here on earth; I can't begrudge them - or him - that.

    But one wonders if the plight of so many others, struggling to just afford to stay alive, ever penetrated his old, diseased heart; maybe he'll have some enlightening moments with the new one.

    Naw (5.00 / 0) (#15)
    by CoralGables on Sat Mar 24, 2012 at 10:35:48 PM EST
    I wonder the same thing, Anne (5.00 / 2) (#20)
    by NYShooter on Sat Mar 24, 2012 at 11:39:10 PM EST
    I don't know how a man who has been in and out of so many hospitals trying to get the best health care possible, and then work so hard his whole life to deny it to most of his "fellow" Americans.

    I think is' the American calvinist mindset. (5.00 / 1) (#21)
    by observed on Sun Mar 25, 2012 at 12:15:06 AM EST
    You're right (none / 0) (#23)
    by NYShooter on Sun Mar 25, 2012 at 02:12:08 AM EST

    Two Comments (none / 0) (#44)
    by ScottW714 on Mon Mar 26, 2012 at 11:00:19 AM EST
    1. Well if the heirs are anything like their father, I suspect the prolonged life is a negative in regards to the vast fortunes awaiting them.  Kind of a joke, but not that much.

    2. A very close friend mine, her father had leukemia of some sort and fought it for years.  He was always a person with few friends and he told her the hardest part of all of it was out living all the really close friends he had made in chemotherapy.  

    Not sure if that applies to Cheney, but GD if I don't feel for the guy at some level. Ahole.  Maybe he'll be like one of those stories you read about, where they take on some traits of the donor. That would be so funny, especially if the donor was a true blue, tree hugging liberal.

    Who can ever forget... (5.00 / 1) (#16)
    by desertswine on Sat Mar 24, 2012 at 10:42:32 PM EST
    "There is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction."

    Ah, Cheney's good old days.

    perfect graphic (5.00 / 3) (#17)
    by sj on Sat Mar 24, 2012 at 10:48:14 PM EST

    71 is kind of old for any transplant, (5.00 / 1) (#19)
    by cpinva on Sat Mar 24, 2012 at 11:04:16 PM EST
    i'm surprised there wasn't a younger, equally qualifying recipient available. the major hazard with transplants is rejection. you must take anti-rejection drugs, for the rest of your life. the drugs weaken your body's defense against infection, so as not to reject the organ. that also weakens your body's defense against all other types of infection. the older you are, the more dangerous this becomes.

    my wife is presently undergoing the initial evaluation process for a liver transplant, and she's much younger than mr. cheney, and still rejection is the primary concern. as it turns out, blood type is the single most critical item, with regards to matching donor to donee. it doesn't matter how great a candidate you are, if the blood type doesn't match, someone else gets the organ.

    this is why i wonder how mr. cheney got to the top of the list, i find it hard to believe there wasn't a more viable, younger candidate.

    NY Times: (5.00 / 1) (#22)
    by The Addams Family on Sun Mar 25, 2012 at 01:39:22 AM EST
    Patients on the list generally have to be ready to rush to the hospital when a suitable donor is found, so there is little notice before a transplant takes place.

    how very fortunate that Mr. Cheney did not happen to be in Canada when the call came

    Canada (none / 0) (#26)
    by Edger on Sun Mar 25, 2012 at 09:36:23 AM EST
    Heart and Stroke Foundation: Heart transplant surgery...

    Once it is determined that you require a new heart, you will be evaluated to determine whether you are a good candidate for heart transplant. If you are, your name will be put on the heart transplant waiting list. Your position on the list will depend upon how ill you are, and may be moved up over time if your health changes. Once on the waiting list, you will receive a pager so you can be contacted immediately when a suitable heart becomes available.

    well, yes (5.00 / 1) (#36)
    by The Addams Family on Sun Mar 25, 2012 at 01:56:58 PM EST
    and then there's this

    Apparently... (none / 0) (#45)
    by ScottW714 on Mon Mar 26, 2012 at 11:04:28 AM EST
    ...near death for Cheney is a good reason to take a cheap shot at a country, beats admitting he's at deaths door.

    The Alien larvae living in there (none / 0) (#50)
    by jondee on Tue Mar 27, 2012 at 11:58:33 AM EST
    was apparently on the verge of bursting through the chest cavity at any moment. Hence the emergency nature of the procedure..

    Peace Dick. And, as the man said, give it a chance.


    Darn it (5.00 / 2) (#24)
    by kmblue on Sun Mar 25, 2012 at 07:27:35 AM EST
    Dick's health care.  Another thing I don't want my taxes to support--unless we all get the same health care.

    I do not think... (none / 0) (#1)
    by Dadler on Sat Mar 24, 2012 at 07:52:02 PM EST
    ...that the person who donated this heart through their own death, would have wanted it going to Dick Cheney.  I love you, Jeralyn, you are a consummate professional, and I therefore expect you to delete this comment.  

    What do you call Dick Cheney on a malfunctioning teeter-totter?  The Human Heart Monitor.

    Come on, that alone should keep me here.

    Best of luck in your recovery, Dick.  As the kind of conservative who'd like to kick my ace at every turn.

    Ick. I certainly wouldn't want (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by Edger on Sat Mar 24, 2012 at 08:03:07 PM EST
    Cheney transplanted onto my heart. The bill for the anti-rejection drugs would be astronomical. And never ending...

    The bill for anti-rejection drugs... (5.00 / 4) (#6)
    by MileHi Hawkeye on Sat Mar 24, 2012 at 09:06:41 PM EST
    for regular people is astronomical and never ending. I don't imagine people like Dick even bat an eye at the cost.

    Too bad for all of us, no matter our station in life, that he didn't use his position to support the research needed to make anti-rejection drugs a thing of the past.  


    Surely his health plan covering (5.00 / 1) (#30)
    by DFLer on Sun Mar 25, 2012 at 10:44:36 AM EST
    retired VPs, and Congress, etc, covers it. US citizens pay for it, heh?

    I haven't seen his plan... (none / 0) (#38)
    by MileHi Hawkeye on Sun Mar 25, 2012 at 02:09:14 PM EST
    so its hard to say.  My state plan "covers' them but that still doesn't make it cheap since they are non-formulary specialty drugs.  The co-pay is tied to the retail cost and even with "assistance" from the drug maker, the cost is pretty steep and seems to go up every month.  

    No Offense... (none / 0) (#46)
    by ScottW714 on Mon Mar 26, 2012 at 11:09:37 AM EST
    ...but you don't know anything about the donor and as much as I hate the idiot, my organs upon my death come with zero strings, especially political ones.

    And for all we know the donor was a Fox News junkie speeding because Rush enraged him to the point of 'loss of control' and he/she hit a telephone pole and would consider it an honor to give Cheney a heart.


    Jeralyn that is a great (none / 0) (#2)
    by fishcamp on Sat Mar 24, 2012 at 07:57:29 PM EST
    tin man with a heart image.  Atta' girl.  Like I said in the other blog there are going to be some wild jokes coming out of this event.  We need a little humor after last weeks' hard to imagine stuff.

    I'm not a doctor, but it seems to me that (none / 0) (#8)
    by observed on Sat Mar 24, 2012 at 09:50:17 PM EST
    his longevity is really a testament to modern medicine. The man had 2 major heart attacks before 50 (4 total, IIRC), several bypass operations. He had a portable defibrillator for a few years, and then recently had used a  heart assist machine which left him with no discernible heart beat. Shift the clock back a decade or two, and you would have read his obituary 10-20 years earlier.

    I salute Dick Cheney for doing his part to keep up the [relatively dismal] US life expectancy average.

    On a side note, I read recently that life expectancy in Moscow has just crossed 75 years.
    This also was attributed to improved health care.

    His longevity is really a testament (5.00 / 3) (#13)
    by Edger on Sat Mar 24, 2012 at 10:25:16 PM EST
    to the long partnership between modern medicine and 'socialist' government spending on health care that both parties want to cut in the name of deficit reduction and keeping bankers and insurance salesman from suffering.

    One reason Cheney lived long enough to finally have this heart transplant Saturday was...

    ...because of the ingenious left ventricular assist device (LVAD) heart pump -- a mechanical life-sustaining apparatus he described during [a] televised interview on NBC's Today show. The pump operates both internally using a motorized implant, and externally via a rechargeable battery power pack mounted to a Darth Vader style unit, electronically pumping sand through Cheney's heart. I made up the part about the sand.

    Suffice to say, the tea party Republicans shouldn't approve of such technology because the LVAD device was developed by the National Institutes of Health using taxpayer money -- ostensibly redistributed from regular Americans and into Dick Cheney's chest cavity. Put another way: Dick Cheney is alive today because of wealth redistribution, socialized medicine and government-run health care.

    Dr. Arthur Caplan, PhD, Director of the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania informs us:

    LVADs are the direct legacy of the program to build a total artificial heart that was instituted at NIH more than 50 years ago. While a total artificial heart proved difficult to create, partial artificial hearts were designed and actively used in government-financed research trials by the late 1990s.

    Again, this technology help[ed] keep Dick Cheney alive [long enough to receive his heart transplant]. And it's only made possible through government spending on health care.


    I for one hope Cheney lives long enough to stand trial for war crimes with his buddy George. And if there is ever a democratic president elected there would then be a slight chance of that happening.  

    Maybe that's one reason Cheney's right wing supporters demonstrate demanding government keep its hands away from their Medicare?

    May you live a long life, Mr. Cheney.


    Great info (5.00 / 1) (#47)
    by cal1942 on Mon Mar 26, 2012 at 12:25:45 PM EST
    and commentary as always Edger.

    I believe the NIH has also been a significant contributor in drug development as well.

    If the average American was reasonably well informed we wouldn't have a Conservative/Teapartier problem.


    Five (none / 0) (#11)
    by gyrfalcon on Sat Mar 24, 2012 at 10:07:53 PM EST
    News is saying he had five heart attacks.

    Ok, I think he had 4 before 2000, and the (none / 0) (#12)
    by observed on Sat Mar 24, 2012 at 10:13:48 PM EST
    5th was a minor one shortly before the terms with Bush. I used to know this stuff. I thought it was amazing that he was vice president, given his health. He was caught napping a lot in later years, as you probably know.

    Health problems of human beings (none / 0) (#27)
    by KeysDan on Sun Mar 25, 2012 at 10:10:47 AM EST
    always take me to a higher level and this, for me, is the case for former Vice President Cheney.  Not only compassion, but also, recognition of his tenacious, if not temerarious, pursuit of a stressful political career in the face of serious cardiac disease.

    Although it is possible for me to find only one political moment of agreement (during the debate with Lieberman, he spoke favorably of same sex marriage, and, even, better, caused the winger commentariat near apoplexy, especially, William Kristol),  I wish him well in what still, remains for him, a difficult course.

    And anyway, if one believes in (5.00 / 1) (#28)
    by observed on Sun Mar 25, 2012 at 10:16:50 AM EST
    heaven and hell, it's charitable to wish him a few more years away from the hot place.

    I believe his statement about gay rights was (5.00 / 1) (#31)
    by Angel on Sun Mar 25, 2012 at 11:01:40 AM EST
    that it should be a state issue.  And that statement was somewhat self-serving since his daughter is gay.  Far cry from saying everyone is equal and deserves to marry - period.

    You are right. During the 2000 debate (none / 0) (#33)
    by KeysDan on Sun Mar 25, 2012 at 01:19:44 PM EST
    with Lieberman, he said that the issue of gay marriage should be decided by the states, and, expressed that view again, in 2004 to the continuing consternation of the wingers and at a time when Bush was supporting an amendment to the US Constitution that would ban same sex marriage.

    Also, in 2004, he did note that his daughter was a lesbian and that the issue of gay marriage was one that his family was familiar with. His feelings may well be self-serving, but many a heart has changed on this issue owing to family and friends.  

    And, it has been reported, that recently, Cheney was supportive of the legislation in the state of Maryland, saying that "freedom means freedom for everybody," which may mean that his view was evolving.    

    Having said that, you place me in the very comfortable position of defending Cheney, albeit on a single and circumscribed issue.  But I do feel that my characterization of Cheney's statement as "favorable" was a fair one, especially in the year 2000 and with his Republican constituency.   Please know that my good wishes for Mr. Cheney run to his health.  Indeed, his good health would be critical to his defense, if he should wind up at the Hague.


    errata: please change comfortable to (none / 0) (#35)
    by KeysDan on Sun Mar 25, 2012 at 01:23:44 PM EST
    uncomfortable.  thanks.

    i remember that debate (none / 0) (#37)
    by The Addams Family on Sun Mar 25, 2012 at 01:58:39 PM EST
    as being in 2004, with John Edwards

    Commission on Presidential Debates, (none / 0) (#40)
    by KeysDan on Sun Mar 25, 2012 at 03:25:14 PM EST
    from the debate transcript, Oct 7, 2000, Danville, KY  (Lieberman and Cheney). Moderator, Bernard Shaw, question: should a male who loves a male and a female who loves a female have all, all the constitutional rights enjoyed by every American citizen.

    Cheney: " the fact of the matter is we live in a free society, and freedom means freedom for everybody.  We shouldn't be able to chose and say you get to live free and you don't. That means people should be free to enter into any kind of relationship they want to enter into.  It's no one's business in terms of regulating behavior in that regard.  The next step then, of course, is the question you ask of whether or not there ought to be official sanction of the relationship or if they should be treated as traditional marriage.  That's a tougher problem. That's not a slam dunk. The fact of the matter is that matter is regulated by the state.  I think different states are likely to come to different conclusions, and that's appropriate.  I don't think there should necessarily be a federal policy in this area.  I try to be open minded about it as much as possible.  I think we ought to do everything we canto tolerate and accommodate whatever kind of relationship people want to enter into."


    ok, thanks (none / 0) (#42)
    by The Addams Family on Sun Mar 25, 2012 at 08:53:02 PM EST
    guess i was thinking of this from the VP debate of 2004 with Edwards:

    GWEN IFILL: Can you describe . . . your administration's support for a constitutional ban on same-sex unions?

    DICK CHENEY: . . . . People ought to be free to choose any arrangement they want. It's really no one else's business. That's a separate question from the issue of whether or not government should sanction or approve or give some sort of authorization, if you will, to these relationships. Traditionally, that's been an issue for the states. States have regulated marriage, if you will. That would be my preference.

    JOHN EDWARDS: . . . I think the vice president and his wife love their daughter. I think they love her very much. And you can't have anything but respect for the fact that they're willing to talk about the fact that they have a gay daughter, the fact that they embrace her. It's a wonderful thing. And there are millions of parents like that who love their children, who want their children to be happy.

    [ . . . ]

    IFILL: Mr. Vice President, you have 90 seconds.

    CHENEY: Well, Gwen, let me simply thank the senator for the kind words he said about my family and our daughter. I appreciate that very much.

    IFILL: That's it?

    CHENEY: That's it.

    As in sports contracts (none / 0) (#29)
    by CoralGables on Sun Mar 25, 2012 at 10:40:33 AM EST
    where players often attach no trade clauses to particular teams, this story makes me pause and wonder....can I attach an addendum to the organ donor portion on the back of my driver's license...

    "All organs available to anyone with the exclusion of the following five people...."

    It's your body (none / 0) (#32)
    by scribe on Sun Mar 25, 2012 at 12:28:17 PM EST
    and in this country that means it's yours to dispose of as you wish.

    At least it used to be.


    That would be (none / 0) (#43)
    by Edger on Sun Mar 25, 2012 at 09:26:55 PM EST
    after Monsanto, Dow, McDonald's, and the pharmaceutical, oil, and nuclear industries are done with it?

    Every time Bill Clinton's heart condition came up, (none / 0) (#41)
    by honora on Sun Mar 25, 2012 at 05:16:13 PM EST
    McDonalds would enter into the story.  Clinton's heart issues were always tied to Clinton's alleged 'indulgences'. I have never heard anyone suggest that Cheney's condition is self-inflicted.

    65 (none / 0) (#48)
    by Amiss on Tue Mar 27, 2012 at 01:58:03 AM EST
    Is the usual highest age they will go for transplants, I believe.

    Nope. (none / 0) (#49)
    by MileHi Hawkeye on Tue Mar 27, 2012 at 08:17:58 AM EST
    In fact, roughly 20% of those on the waiting lists in the US are 65+.