03/26/2012 04:16 pm ET Updated May 26, 2012

Dick Cheney Heart Transplant Surgery: Former Vice President Able To Stand, Doing Well

WASHINGTON, March 26 (Reuters) - Former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney is doing well after undergoing heart transplant surgery over the weekend, a spokeswoman for his family said on Monday.

The 71-year-old, who wielded considerable power as vice president during George W. Bush's presidency from 2001 to 2009, was still in the intensive care unit at Inova Fairfax Hospital in Falls Church, Virginia. His wife and daughters were with him.

"He is awake, and talking and even was able to stand up yesterday," said spokeswoman Kara Ahern. "His doctors are very pleased with the recovery so far."

Cheney, who has suffered five heart attacks, the first at age 37, had been on the cardiac transplant list for more than 20 months before he received a heart from an anonymous donor, the family has said.

Doctors said he was older than the average person to get a heart transplant but was still a good candidate for the surgery because of advances in care.

Survival rates for heart transplants have improved in recent years, with about 88 percent of patients surviving the first year after surgery, and 75 percent staying alive for five years, according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.

Cheney's transplant followed a series of procedures in recent years to extend the use of his heart, including bypass surgery, two angioplasties (procedures to open blocked or narrowed heart arteries), and an implanted heart pump. (Reporting by Anna Yukhananov; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)