Dr Oz: Dick Cheney’s Life-Saving Heart Transplant
Dr Oz spoke with Dick Cheney about his lifelong battle with heart disease. Oz said he has never seen a patient survive 35 years with heart disease. Cheney’s own doctor, Jonathan Reiner, said his patient has gotten every medical answer just in time.
An LVAD is a piggyback pump that can prop up a failing heart. That was the last resort Cheney needed to keep him alive as he spent 20 months on the heart transplant list, waiting for a new heart.
Dr Oz: Dick Cheney’s Cardiologist Jonathan Reiner
Cardiologist Jonathan Reiner joined Cheney’s conversation with Oz. Doctor Oz said that a patient with this type of serious and complicated history would be intimidating. How does Reiner think that Cheney managed to maintain his health for so long?
Dr Reiner said that Cheney is really an example of how far cardiovascular medicine has come in recent decades. Reiner has also been a friend to the former vice president, and he admitted it was difficult for him to see someone close to him go through these serious heart health problems.
Dr Oz: Left Ventricular Assist Device (LVAD)
Grey’s Anatomy viewers might be familiar with an LVAD (left ventricular assist device), but for those who are not, Dr Oz showed what one looks like. It sucks blood from the heart and pumps it back out into the body.
Reiner said that this was the best option to keep Cheney alive. There was a short window and it was closing. The LVAD is “the first internal machine to replace an organ,” according to Oz. He explained that heart failure causes the organ to bloat and balloon.
The LVAD is installed to shrink the size of the heart. A battery-powered device on the outside of the body mimics the normal heart function, but it can only buy time until a transplant is found. Reiner said he hoped the device would hold up in Cheney’s case, and it ended up lasting the 20 months until a donor match was found.
Dr Oz: What Does an Enlarged Heart Look Like?
Dr Oz showed his guests three human hearts. He had them look at a normal heart, which is a bit larger than fist-sized. Muscle thickness in the heart is common in an organ that has had a heart attack. Dr Oz explained that the heart twists blood, like wringing a towel. A third heart had an LVAD device inserted. The hefty weight of the damaged heart containing the LVAD was obvious, but Reiner said that Cheney’s removed heart was even larger.
When he woke up after his transplant, Cheney was amazed that his surgery was successful. He was grateful to the donor and the donor’s family, who went through a personal tragedy that actually ended up helping at least one other life.
Dick Cheney encouraged everyone to sign up as organ donors, because we never know when we might need to be on the receiving end of a donor list.
Dr Oz: Dick Cheney Indian Name
Cheney spoke about the Shoshone tribe in his home state of Wyoming. The Native Americans bestow Indian names upon their guests at this event, and their selection for Cheney was Two Heart.
You can read more about Cheney’s medical journey in his brand new book, Heart.