NATIONAL DONATE LIFE MONTH-CALIFORNIA-APPLE CHIEF STEVE JOBS HAD TO SHOP FOR TRANSPLANT

Source: Times OnLine
Apple's Steve Jobs and Laurene Powell

Apple's Steve Jobs and Laurene Powell

Jobs, 55, one of the world’s wealthiest men, had kept secret the details of his search for a new liver until now, but Forbes magazine has published the first account of his journey back to health.

America has no central database matching living donors to patients in need. So Jobs had to go “shopping” around the country, undergoing tests in different hospitals so he could be placed on their waiting lists.

The process, known as “multiple listing”, is time-consuming. In one hospital Jobs had an interview with a doctor and a social worker, a set of laboratory tests, psychological clearance, an abdominal ultrasound, an electrocardiogram and a colonoscopy. Many of the same tests had to be repeated at every hospital.

Most health insurance firms ban patients from more than one listing as it is so expensive. But this was not a problem for a man worth an estimated $5.5 billion (£3.6 billion) and with access to a private jet.

Jobs has battled ill health for years. He survived pancreatic cancer in 2004 only to fall ill later with the liver disease that necessitated his transplant. The odds against success were daunting. In 2009 more than 3,400 Californians were looking for a new liver; only 671 received one and 400 died.

After a long hunt throughout America, the Methodist University hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, found a match in March 2009 with a person in their mid-twenties who had just died in a car crash.

Jobs immediately set up a company in Memphis to establish residency and bought a five-bedroom mansion in the most expensive part of the city for himself and his family. He had the five-hour transplant operation a few days later. It was a success but he needed months of recuperation.

According to Forbes, neighbours spotted security guards in the drive and cameras in the trees when he was released from hospital and moved into the house, which is now back on sale for $1.4m.

Jobs could not leave the house except for hospital visits for several months because his immunosuppressive drugs made him vulnerable to infection. He was able to go back to work by the end of June.

When he returned to California he complained to Maria Shriver, the wife of Arnold Schwarzenegger, the state’s governor, about the haphazard nature of organ donation in the United States.

He then threw his weight behind Bill 1395, aimed at establishing an organ transplant register in California. It had become bogged down in local politics. Schwarzenegger promised to speed up the bill. At one meeting Jobs told the governor: “I was almost one of the ones that died waiting for a liver in California last year.”

Last week the bill passed the Californian senate’s health committee. It establishes a central register and requires staff issuing driving licences to ask applicants whether they are willing to become donors. According to one supporter, the measure will double the number of organ transplants available in California.

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