From the Wall Street Journal:
Steve Jobs, who has been on medical leave from Apple Inc. since January to treat an undisclosed medical condition, received a liver transplant in Tennessee about two months ago. The chief executive has been recovering well and is expected to return to work on schedule later this month, though he may work part-time initially.
Mr. Jobs didn't respond to an email requesting comment. "Steve continues to look forward to returning at the end of June, and there's nothing further to say," said Apple spokeswoman Katie Cotton.
When he does return, Mr. Jobs may be encouraged by his physicians to initially "work part-time for a month or two," a person familiar with the thinking at Apple said. That may lead Tim Cook, Apple's chief operating officer, to take "a more encompassing role," this person said. The person added that Mr. Cook may be appointed to Apple's board in the not-too-distant future.
Apple has previously drawn criticism from some shareholders over what they have called limited disclosure of Mr. Jobs's health problems, which began in 2004. In this case, it is unclear whether the surgery is material because Mr. Jobs was already on leave. Material information like that must be disclosed only "if you are asking shareholders to make a decision based on [that] information," said John Olson, a senior partner at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher in Washington. "You can't expect the company to give a blow-by-blow account of Steve Jobs's health."
But once Mr. Jobs resumes work, the company will have to be "very careful" about what it says "about his health and his prognosis," Mr. Olson said. The attorney, who counsels corporate boards on governance issues, has never advised Apple's board.
At least some Apple directors were aware of the CEO's surgery. As part of an agreement with Mr. Jobs in place before he went on leave, some board members have been briefed weekly on the CEO's condition by his physician.
Mr. Jobs, 54 years old, disclosed on Aug. 1, 2004, that he had just been treated for a rare form of pancreatic cancer, called islet cell neuroendocrine tumor, which can be cured by surgery if removed promptly. In a memo to Apple employees, he said that the tumor was diagnosed in time, that he had undergone surgery to remove it and that he wouldn't require any chemotherapy or radiation.
But over the last year concerns about Mr. Jobs's health grew among investors as he exhibited noticeable weight loss, and the company's stock price see-sawed as health speculation intensified. While Apple has a deep bench of senior managers, Mr. Jobs, who co-founded Apple in 1976, is considered the company's visionary and creative leader.
In early January, Mr. Jobs said he had a hormone imbalance that was "relatively simple and straightforward" to treat. But about a week later, he announced that the issue was more complex than he had thought, and in a letter to employees he said he would be taking a leave and Mr. Cook would take over temporarily.
William Hawkins, a doctor specializing in pancreatic and gastrointestinal surgery at Washington University in St. Louis, Mo., said that the type of slow-growing pancreatic tumor Mr. Jobs had will commonly metastasize in another organ during a patient's lifetime, and that the organ is usually the liver. "All total, 75% of patients are going to have the disease spread over the course of their life," said Dr. Hawkins, who has not treated Mr. Jobs.
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.
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