Former Vice President Dick Cheney Former Vice President Dick Cheney

Former Vice President Dick Cheney underwent a heart transplant Saturday, The Associated Press reports.

Cheney, 71, has suffered five heart attacks and waited on a donor list for 20 months before receiving the heart from an unknown donor.

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"Although the former vice president and his family do not know the identity of the donor, they will be forever grateful for this lifesaving gift," aide Kara Ahern said in a statement obtained by the news agency. Cheney was recovering Saturday night in the intensive care unit of Inova Fairfax Hospital in Falls Church, Va.

After suffering his fifth heart attack in 2010, Cheney underwent surgery to have a small pump — a left ventricular device — installed to help keep his heart working. That followed quadruple bypass surgery, which he had in 1988.

Since serving two terms as Vice President under George W. Bush, Cheney published In My Time: A Personal and Political Memoir last year.