Jun 20, 2009

WSJ: Steve Jobs' Liver Transplant [Don't Call It A Comeback]

Steve Jobs had a liver transplant in Tennessee two months ago, he's in recovery, and is going to be back to work before the end of the month. Just like they said he would be.

Yukari Iwatani Kane and Joann S. Lublin of The Wall Street Journal - who, it now appears has an outright monopoly on exclusives and leaks regarding Jobs (something that'd make sense, considering the most direct implication of the Apple CEO's various health crisis: Apple's stock price) - reported last night on the revelation. Though not going to far as to state anything but the surgery as outright fact, the Journal's filing vaguely speculated that Jobs' 2004 cancer came back, and spread to his liver:

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.

Jobs took a leave of absence in January, handing control of Apple's day-to-day over to COO Tim Cook after publicly disclosing that he had a "hormone imbalance" that was "robbing" Jobs of his body's healthy proteins. Which sounds nothing like what causes one to get their liver removed.

Jobs, who's been beset by health problems and swarmed by rampant speculation about those health problems by Apple fanboys, shareholders, journalists and bloggers of the tech and financial stripe since said 2004 pancreatic cancer scare, has been notoriously mum on the details of his health. Even when more or less busted red-handed, like this, the company continues to run interference, with Apple flack Katie Cotton barely even dignifying the question (""Steve continues to look forward to returning at the end of June, and there's nothing further to say.") and Jobs not returning anything for comment to the Journal.

The notoriously showy CEO enjoys managing his own press, and probably isn't too ecstatic about this bit of news leaking; then again, after what sounded like a pretty traumatic few months, he could probably care less. The guy's got his health back, and a company to run. No doubt the inevitably glitzy Steve Jobs Comeback Special will happen soon in front of a grey curtain, with cheeky jokes and maybe a not-so-subtle U2 soundtrack.

Meanwhile, the company didn't go down the shitter while he was gone (at least more than this), and other than what's no doubt going to be rampant speculation on this efficacy of Jobs' procedure, there's not too much more to see here until the guy gets back up on stage.


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