Former Vice President Dick Cheney, ever the controversial figure for a myriad of reasons, underwent a heart transplant at Inova Fairfax Hospital in Falls Church, Virginia recently. Back in 2010, Cheney was given an implanted heart pump that has been keeping him alive ever since. He was put on a heart transplant list at that time, approximately 20 months ago. Now, some are questioning whether Cheney, at the age of seventy-one, deserved to get a new heart over thousands of younger people that were also on the list. Furthermore, it fires up a long-running debate on how these things should be determined.
Every single time someone in the United States receives a heart transplant, it is a reasonable assumption that another person dies. More than 3,100 Americans are currently on the list waiting for the possibility of a new heart, and about 330 die each year because no heart reaches them in time. When a heart is available, doctors crunch the numbers to determine who on the list is the the best match, which is determined by their overall health and the urgency of the need. From there, the heart is offered based on geographic location. If no one in the local area is in need of the heart and meets the doctors’ specifications, it then goes regional, and finally national.
How long you are on the waiting list weighs heavily on the process, as well as medical need and location. At this point, how long you might live after the transplant is not considered as a factor in the process. Dick Cheney suffered from congestive heart failure and has had five heart attacks in the last 25 years. Surgical procedures to keep him alive are almost commonplace to Cheney; he has had everything from angioplasty to pacemakers to bypasses. Now, he gets a new heart and a new lease on life.
Many people assume that the former VP got preferential treatment in getting this heart. Doctors say this is not the case. After all, if he was getting special treatment, he probably wouldn’t have had to wait 20 months to get hold of a new heart. Doctors say that no one can jump ahead on the list, except within the parameters set, and that there is much oversight on the process. To even qualify, a patient must have a healthy liver and kidneys. However, transplants in general can be more accessible to those with higher financial means. Apple CEO Steve Jobs was on a list for a liver transplant. Because he had the ability to fly cross-country at a moment’s notice, he was able to qualify for a liver that came out of Tennessee, even though he resided in California.
The data on older citizens receiving transplants is varied. For example, a man in Canada received a heart transplant at the ripe old age of 79. It helped him live another decade, finally succumbing at 90. In Texas, a 75-year-old got a new heart. He was a marathon runner in outstanding shape, which caused doctors to place him ahead of others needing a heart because of the better chances of a recovery.
The issue is especially vibrant in the wake of the second anniversary of the passing of President Barack Obama’s health care initiatives, often dubbed “Obamacare,” that sparked much debate on the concept of death panels. While the Obama administration and everyone involved has always denied the existence of such a thing, many believed that the idea behind “Obamacare” was to decide who should receive expensive health care and who should be relegated to the classic “let’s just make them comfortable.”
So, whether you believe in it or not, let’s think about it. If you were on the supposed “death panel,” and a 71-year-old gentlemen that had five heart attacks in the last 25 years and had underwent numerous operations to save his heart was on the list, would you approve him…over thousands of younger possibilities. As always, Common Sense Conspiracy wants to hear what you have to say.