At 71, former Vice President Dick Cheneywas older than average for a heart transplant, but doctors said on Sunday that advances in care have made it possible for older patients to still be good transplant candidates.
And not only was he older than the typical patient, but he waited longer than average as well -- 20 months vs six months to a year.
Doctors said Cheney must have been in excellent health to have survived five heart attacks and still been eligible for a heart transplant. Cheney is recovering at a Washington-area hospital after transplant surgery on Saturday.
"He's obviously received superb care," said Dr. James Kirklin, director of cardiothoracic surgery at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and a recent past president of the International Society of Heart & Lung Transplantation.
"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 that would have precluded a transplant," said Kirklin, who is not treating Cheney.