Dick Cheney + Sponge Bath: Unsee This

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Mr. Cheney’s pump was placed near his heart. With most patients, a power line emerges about waist level and connects to a controller, a minicomputer that plugs into a pair of one-and-a-half-pound, 12-volt batteries. Patients wear a black mesh vest over their clothing that holds the controller and batteries. They usually cannot shower and have to be satisfied with sponge baths.


Mr. Cheney, who has participated in some of the nation’s toughest decisions for decades, now faces a crucial one of his own: whether to seek a full heart transplant.

It is a decision he will most likely be forced to make within months. He is old enough that soon he will no longer qualify for a transplant, doctors say. And while it is possible for some patients with Mr. Cheney’s device to live for years, the long-term prospects remain unknown.