The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Apple CEO Steve Jobs recently underwent a liver transplant. Jobs, who has been on a leave of absence from the company since January, reportedly had the transplant about two months ago in an undisclosed hospital in Tennessee.
As the Journal notes, Tennessee has a more liberal policy regarding waiting lists and residency requirements for transplants. This results in a median wait of 48 days for a liver transplant, vs. 306 nationally. As to why Jobs needed a liver transplant, it’s possibly associated with his pancreatic cancer from 2004. The five-year survival rate for all liver transplants is around 75 percent.
When contacted by the Journal regarding the status of Jobs, Apple spokeswoman Katie Cotton would only comment that “Steve continues to look forward to returning at the end of June, and there’s nothing further to say.” Actually, there is.
Back in January, Jobs sent an e-mail to Apple employees announcing his leave of absence. In the letter, he talked about his weight loss, about “getting to the root cause” of the problem, and reversing it. According to Jobs at the time, the cause had been determined.
Fortunately, after further testing, my doctors think they have found the cause — a hormone imbalance that has been “robbing” me of the proteins my body needs to be healthy. Sophisticated blood tests have confirmed this diagnosis.
While it is possible that there was a misdiagnosis in January, there was no announcement regarding the updated status of Jobs’ health, and the question then becomes whether there should have been.
Unlike in 2004, when Jobs hid his illness from all but a few people close to him for nine months before surgery for pancreatic cancer forced him to reveal it, at least some members of the Board of Directors were kept informed. More importantly, Apple COO Tim Cook was officially running the company during Jobs’ illness this time. It appears the company has adapted internally, if not externally, to the problem of Jobs’ health. While the public has no right to know about Jobs’ private life, perhaps a blanket policy of “no comment” would be better than questionable answers.