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The Steve Jobs Liver



June 22, 2009 – Comments (3) | RELATED TICKERS: AAPL

Apple (AAPL) CEO Steve Jobs apparently had a liver transplant in Tennessee two months ago, though the WSJ is speculating that perhaps it's not as innocent as it sounds:

Getting a liver transplant to treat a metastasized neuroendocrine tumor is controversial because livers are scarce and the surgery's efficacy as a cure hasn't been proved, Dr. Hawkins added. He said that patients whose tumors have metastasized can live for as many as 10 years without any treatment so it is hard to determine how successful a transplant has been in curing the disease.

The specifics of Mr. Jobs's surgery couldn't be established, but according to the United Network for Organ Sharing, which manages the transplant network in the U.S., there are no residency requirements for transplants. Having the procedure done in Tennessee makes sense because its list of patients waiting for transplants is shorter than in many other states. According to data provided by UNOS, in 2006, the median number of days from joining the liver waiting list to transplant was 306 nationally. In Tennessee, it was 48 days.

If Mr. Jobs hadn't shown up in Tennessee to claim a liver, where would that liver have gone? To someone who may have needed it in fewer than 10 years?

Is this just another example of a billionaire CEO leveraging his wealth and status to get what he/she wants without thinking the rules that apply to the rest of us commoners apply to them? Or was Jobs critically ill?

Anyone out there qualified to answer any of these questions? It appears to me that the folks at Apple are doing more than protecting their volatile stock price.

3 Comments – Post Your Own

#1) On June 22, 2009 at 4:08 PM, mobilsurg (< 20) wrote:

It has nothing to do with the length of the waiting list. It does have everything to do with the quality of the program. 

There are 4 centers in TN and I supect he had his surgery at the center with the highest survival rate- Vanderbilt. I know a lot of people who have been transplanted there. They are ALL still alive. His decision was the result of one motivating factor-survival.

If you need a liver, want to live, know how transplant programs work and have the money- do what he did. Before people get all crazy about "this was a case where money trumps need", any US citizen can get on the waiting list at any transplant program in the country.

UNOS sets the rules for who gets transplanted in what order based on the tissue match between donor and recipient and severity of illness. The sickest match gets transplanted first. If you try to game the system- you go to JAIL. The days of selling organs to foreign nationals is OVER. The only way they get transplanted in the US is if the list of US patients is exhausted and then the organ is so old the likelyhood of succesful surgery is low.

Steve Jobs did what wealthy Americans (and every other wealthy citizen in the world) do- use money to insure good clinical outcomes. Get used to it, its going to be the rule vs. the exception within the next five years. Its the price we pay for allowing pharma and every other greedy company that feeds our 401k-s open access to what remains of our healthcare GDP.





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#2) On June 22, 2009 at 4:08 PM, motleyanimal (36.59) wrote:

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#3) On June 22, 2009 at 6:09 PM, Nainara (< 20) wrote:

If Mr. Jobs hadn't shown up in Tennessee to claim a liver, where would that liver have gone? 

This is exactly what I was thinking when I read the headline this morning. Whether it happened through moral circumstances or not, this sort of news probably isn't going to help donor membership. If I die, who's going to get mine, Ken Lewis or Dick Cheney?

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