A Liver for an Apple

Jun 28, 2009 | Stacy Matson | Celebrity Health
A Liver for an Apple

image by: Matthew Yohe

Pancreatic cancer typically spreads quickly to other organs and is seldom detected in its early stages, which is the major reason it's one of the hardest cancers to treat. Maybe someday there will be a screening test!

After months of speculation about his health, it was announced that Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple, Inc. underwent a liver transplant two months ago at Methodist University Hospital in Memphis. In 2004, Jobs was diagnosed with a form of pancreatic cancer called an islet cell neuroendocrine tumor. His liver failure is a possible complication related to pancreatic cancer.

A diagnosis of pancreatic cancer is grim, even when diagnosed early. According to the American Cancer Society, it is a rare, slow-growing type of cancer that affects as many as 3,000 people in the U.S. annually. According to the Mayo Clinic, “cancer will commonly metastasize in another organ during a patient's lifetime, and that organ is usually the liver…" However, a liver transplant to treat a metastasized neuroendocrine tumor is very controversial due to the scarcity of livers, and the surgery’s success rate and outcome have yet to be proven.

Last year, Methodist University Hospital performed 120 liver transplants making it one of the top ten liver transplant centers in the U.S. with one of the highest patient survival rates in the country. According to the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) there were more than 6,500 liver transplants performed in the U.S. last year and there are currently more than 17,000 people on the transplant waiting list.

This leads to the question of whether Steve Jobs moved to the head of the transplant list because he is a rich and powerful man which was recently discussed in a recent USA TODAY article.

With Jobs’ consent and to quiet any rumors about the manner in which Jobs acquired his liver, Methodist University Hospital issued a statement, “Mr. Jobs underwent a complete transplant evaluation and was listed for transplantation for an approved indication in accordance with the Transplant Institute policies and United Network for Organ Sharing policies”.  “He received a liver transplant because he was the patient with the highest MELD score (Model for End-Stage Liver Disease) of his blood type and, therefore, the sickest patient on the waiting list at the time a donor organ became available. Mr. Jobs is now recovering well and has an excellent prognosis”.

Barring any setbacks he is expected back to work on a part time basis by the end of June. Good luck - Steve Jobs.

Stacy Matson is a health enthusiast from Southern California and regularly blogs on Celebrity Health for A Healthier World as well as contributing to the Best of the Best.

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