Jobs' surgeon specializes in cancer recurrence

Dr. James Eason, who performed Steve Jobs' liver transplant earlier this year, gives his first interview on the subject to Bloomberg.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs' liver transplant earlier this year was the work of a surgeon who treats recurrences of the rare cancer Jobs had five years ago, according to a Bloomberg profile of the doctor.

Dr. James Eason UT Medical Group

In his first interview since performing Jobs' transplant in the spring, Dr. James Eason told Bloomberg this week that he has replaced the livers of about 10 people with a neuroendocrine tumor. Jobs was treated for that cancer in his pancreas back in 2004, but he hasn't said whether this year's liver transplant was related to a recurrence of the cancer.

Jobs returned to work in June after a medical leave of absence that started in January.

Eason, who trained at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, is head of transplants at the Methodist University Hospital and the University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Memphis.

The surgeon said he couldn't comment on the details of Jobs' health, though he did tell Bloomberg that Jobs is "really a genuinely nice person."

Eason did deny that Jobs, who lives in Silicon Valley, bypassed any transplant waiting list by relocating to Tennessee.

"It's not gaming the system," he told Bloomberg. "It's people choosing where they want their health care. Some people would leave Tennessee to go to California or somewhere else to seek treatment. Now we have people coming from California to Tennessee."

Eason said he will only undertake a liver transplant on a neuroendocrine tumor patient when he is certain that he can completely rid someone of all the spreading cancer. According to what he told Bloomberg, his results with such patients are about the same as those of other liver-cancer sufferers--about 70 percent have healthy organs five years post-transplant.

 

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