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Steve Jobs recovering from transplant surgery

by Angeline Booher / June 21, 2009 12:02 AM PDT
Jobs, co-founder and chief executive of Apple Inc., underwent a liver transplant in Tennessee two months ago while on a leave of absence from the company since January, the Wall Street Journal reported Saturday.

While the 54-year-old business icon has kept much of his medical condition private, he confirmed in 2004 that he was diagnosed with a pancreatic tumor known as an islet cell neuroendocrine tumor, which is considered far less deadly than most pancreatic growths. He underwent surgery in 2004 at Stanford University Medical Center but was forced to take a leave of absence earlier this year due to an undisclosed medical condition that had caused dramatic weight loss.

With new reports indicating Jobs has undergone a liver transplant, physicians say the tumor probably metastasized to his liver, which is a likely place for the disease to spread. Still, a liver transplant would not usually be one of the first interventions attempted.


Wishing him a speedy and uneventful recovery!

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As I read about his transplant....
by Josh K / June 21, 2009 6:42 AM PDT

....I began to wonder (in general) whether the CEO of a publicly traded company has any obligation to be candid about his medical situation, especially a CEO as closely tied to the success/failure/direction of his company as Steve Jobs has been. Jobs has been very secretive about his condition and I'm wondering how that plays with his stockholders.

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I don't know but ...
by Bill Osler / June 21, 2009 11:38 AM PDT

I think you are really asking two questions:
(1) Is there an obligation to disclose health problems? I would guess that there is not;
(2) Is there an obligation to be honest in whatever IS disclosed? I would guess that the answer is 'yes' and that Jobs has failed in that regard. However, I'm not an attorney and I could well be wrong.
Based on the little bit of 3rd or 4th hand information I've picked up about his health situation I have to conclude that he has mislead the public about the seriousness of the current illness. I would not be willing to guess whether that was deliberate or the result of personal denial. That public announcement about treating a hormone imbalance was awfully suspicious.
I had a recent discussion with a healthcare informatics specialist about privacy issues. We both wondered whether somebody as famously private as Mr. Jobs would willingly have any personal health information entered into electronic records but of course he probably does not have much input into how his physician keeps his records.

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(NT) Good answer. Rob
by Ziks511 / June 21, 2009 12:06 PM PDT
In reply to: I don't know but ...
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And probably not any control
by Angeline Booher / June 21, 2009 11:46 PM PDT
In reply to: I don't know but ...

.... over how his insurance company handles their records. (Assuming his care was not self pay, which he could afford.)

Off the top of my head I can't name any other CEOs of well know companies. Jobs and Gates have had a much higher profile so are more widely recognized. This sort of puts a label of "celebrity" on them, as well.

As celebrities they are subject to the close scrutiny of the "entertainment" media as well as the business one.

For that reason I think that regardless of the initial announcement, there would have been rampant speculation.

Even now that facts are being released, there is still speculation. Physicians who never saw the patient and were not privy to the testing results have been willing to offer criticism of his treatment. Monday morning quarterbacking. They say what they would have done, but they can't guarantee that with knowing every result in the work-up they would not have opted for the same.

Kudos to the staff of the TN hospital for honoring the privacy issues!

Speakeasy Moderator

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I have not really followed it, but ...
by Bill Osler / June 22, 2009 12:57 PM PDT

In the discussions I've seen the criticism has been that liver transplant as a procedure for metastatic cancer is not usually considered appropriate. As a rule, once cancers have metastasized the prognosis is pretty bad even if the liver mets are removed. The result is that many people regard giving a cancer patient a new liver as more-or-less equivalent to throwing the liver away. I don't know whether there is something special related to this cancer that changes the picture.

I don't have any expertise in transplant surgery, pancreatic cancer therapy or the other relevant disciplines, so I cannot say that the treatment was inappropriate. However, given the shortage of livers available for transplant and the length of waiting lists that usually exist it is surprising that he was able to receive one.

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Of course he has an obligation to disclose his medical
by Desperado JC / June 22, 2009 6:04 AM PDT
In reply to: I don't know but ...

condition if it bears on his ability to do his job. Apple's stock value assumes that Jobs will be at the helm and doing his job in a competent manner. If he won't be there, then that is a material fact which needs to be disclosed. Refusing to disclose the facts simply opens Apple to lawsuits.

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