Why Steve Jobs Admitted His Liver Transplant

Likely explanation for Apple CEO's revelation: He wants people to know he deserved organ

The doctor who oversaw Steve Jobs's liver transplant has confirmed that the Apple CEO was a patient -- an admission that Jobs himself authorized.

Dr. James Eason, program director at Methodist University Hospital Transplant Institute, revealed Jobs's treatment in a post on the hospital's website.

Why would the famously secretive Silicon Valley boss allow such a thing? Jobs is a cancer survivor who has dodged questions about his health for the past year. Since last summer, when people noted Jobs's sickly appearance at a company event, his publicists have offered false or misleading statements about his health, when they weren't declaring it a "private matter." 

Apple investors and others concerned about the fate of the company have loudly disagreed, noting Jobs's personal role in the company's comeback over the past decade and the development of hit products like the iMac, iPod, and iPhone.

In January, after failing to deliver a widely watched keynote speech at the Macworld convention, Jobs first stated that his disconcerting weight loss was due to an easily treated "hormonal imbalance." A few days later, he issued a new statement admitting that his health problems were "more complex," and took a six-month medical leave from Apple.

Thanks to Eason, we now know how complex those problems were:

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 (UNOS) 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.

What Jobs wants people to know: He deserved the liver transplant; he didn't jump a line to get faster treatment, as some have speculated. (He did, however, choose his location wisely. Tennessee has a much shorter waiting time for liver transplants than other states.)

That admission came at a price: Admitting that he was seriously ill, a step he's resisted since questions about his health arose a year ago.

The good news: Jobs has been spotted on Apple's campus, marking an early end to his medical leave. "Mr. Jobs is now recovering well and has an excellent prognosis," Eason wrote. Is this an end to the drama over Jobs's health? Impossible to say. But it's worth asking if we'd ever have had so many questions about it if Jobs had been this forthcoming from the beginning.

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