Dick Cheney: 'It's my new heart, not someone else's old heart'

Dylan Stableford
Yahoo News

Former Vice President Dick Cheney says he is thankful for his new heart, but doesn't spend much time thinking about the person who donated the vital organ to him.

"When I came out from under the anesthetic after the transplant, I was euphoric," Cheney, who underwent the life-saving procedure last year, told Larry King in an interview slated to air Thursday on Ora TV. "I’d been given the gift of additional lives, additional years of life. For the family of the donor, they’d just been [through] some terrible tragedy, they’d lost a family member."

Cheney, who was "near death" when he received a heart pump in 2011 that kept him alive until the transplant, said he does not know the identity of the donor or the circumstances surrounding his death.

"The way I think of it from a psychological standpoint is that it’s my new heart, not someone else’s old heart," Cheney continued. "And I always thank the donor, generically thank donors, for the gift that I’ve been given, but I don’t spend time wondering who had it, what they’d done, what kind of person."

The seeming lack of empathy from Cheney, who's been out promoting his new book, "Heart: An American Medical Odyssey," didn't sit well with some.

"It’s a window into his utter entitlement and self-absorption, and he comes off as an even bigger monster than I’d thought," Salon's Joan Walsh wrote. "Most people would at least feign interest in the donor; Cheney can’t manage it."

Cheney has had five heart attacks, four before he was sworn in as vice president in 2001. His most recent came in 2010.

In an interview with "60 Minutes" last month, Cheney revealed that his doctor ordered the wireless functionality of his heart implant "disabled due to fears it might be hacked in an assassination attempt."

"It seemed to me to be a bad idea for the vice president to have a device that maybe somebody on a rope line or in the next hotel room or downstairs might be able to get into, hack into," Dr. Jonathan Reiner said.

Cheney said he agreed that the threat was "credible."

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