Thursday, July 15, 2010

Dick Cheney’s Future

Former Vice President Dick Cheney has had a procedure to install a device to keep his heart going.

The kind of heart pump that Cheney received can be implanted next to the heart to help its main pumping chamber, the left ventricle, pump blood through the body. Such devices are used mainly for short periods, to buy potential transplant candidates time as they await a donor organ.

But they are being studied for use as a permanent therapy for people with severe heart failure who aren’t transplant candidates.

About 5 million Americans have congestive heart failure, where the heart weakens over time — often as a result of heart attacks — and cannot pump enough blood. Heart transplants are one solution, but few patients find a donor and many are too old or sick for a transplant.

Cheney said a few weeks ago it became clear he was “entering a new phase of the disease when I began to experience increasing congestive heart failure.”

It’s safe to say, then, that Mr. Cheney is not looking at a full recovery.

Say what you will about the man — and I’ve said plenty, including the sincerest wish that he had found some other line of work in his life, like selling shoes — but it’s low-class and wrong to wish ill health and death on anyone. If we can’t separate the person from the politics and not have some compassion for the pain and the grief a family goes through when they’re faced with a gloomy prognosis, then we’re no better than the intolerant and vicious lunatic out there who calls for the death of their enemies. There are some supporters of Mr. Cheney who would not return the favor if it was Bill Clinton or Al Gore who faced this prospect, but that doesn’t make it right, and it gives those of us who were his opponents the moment to show something they never had: class and dignity.