Opening up about his heart-transplant experience and his new book "Heart: An American Medical Odyssey," former Vice President Dick Cheney said he wakes up every day "with a smile on my face, grateful for another day I'd never thought I'd see."
"As my doctor said, transplant is a spiritual experience, not just for the patient but also for the crew, the surgical team," the 72-year-old Cheney said Sunday on ABC's "This Week." "You don't sweat the small stuff, and everything else is small stuff."
When asked by television host George Stephanopoulos what he has learned about America's medical system since his first heart attack in 1978, Cheney answered, "The system we have is the best in the world, by far."
Cheney said many of the devices, medicines and procedures that kept him alive until his transplant in 2012 weren't invented back then.
"What I worry about very much is that … Obamacare itself may damage that innovation machine that we've created out there," he said. "Our medical system that encourages innovation is miraculous. That innovation machine that is, in fact, our modern healthcare system really is a national treasure and needs to be protected."
Cheney wrote the book with cardiologist Jonathan Reiner.
"The message in the book is about hope," Cheney said. "There are 80 million Americans out there that have some form of heart disease."
He also reiterated the fact that he waited 20 months for the organ to be donated and said he didn't get any special treatment.
"I had to meet all the same standards as everybody else did," Cheney said. "I made a point of making that to my team, but there isn’t any way you can game the system, anyway. I didn't jump the line."
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