On Saturday, the 71 former Vice President of the United States, Dick Cheney was scheduled for a heart transplant surgery in a Washington hospital. Unlike many other cardio patients, Dick Cheney decided to wait through five heart attacks before considering a heart transplant, but the procedure seems to have been successful so far, as the former vice president is now recovering. However, Dick Cheney’s heart transplant brings back in focus heart diseases.
There’s one particular thing that should be emphasized. As specialists point out Dick Cheney waited longer than any other cardio patient for a heart transplant, while surviving five heart attacks and quite a significant age. Perhaps it was some luck involved, but cardiothoracic experts point out that Cheney must have been in excellent health to be considered for the transplant and survive the procedure, since the age limit is set at 65.
Dr. James Kirklin is director of cardiothoracic surgery in Birmingham and Reuters consulted with him regarding Cheney’s heart transplant at age 71. He said: “He’s an elderly man who likely has taken very, very good care of himself to be in this good shape at age 71. It appears that he has been relatively lucky to have avoided major organ problems”.
However, if you suspect you might be having some heart issues and would rather postpone it until later down the road, don’t imagine you’d be just as lucky as Cheney. If your heart condition evolves to the extent you will need an organ transplant, you need to be aware that surgeons have specific conditions candidates must meet.
Don’t forget that heart transplantation is only a last resort in cardiopathy and only patients who don’t respond to any other therapies are considered for it. Although now heart transplants are a lot more safe and effective, the number of such procedures performed each year remains low: 5,000 worldwide, and 2,000 in the United States alone.
That’s one of the reasons why the waiting list for a new heart is so long. As data points out at the moment there are about 3,100 people on the waiting list for a new heart in the United States alone. And making it to the waiting list does not necessarily mean a patient will get a new heart soon.