Questions surround Jobs transplant

June 23, 2009 6:26:19 PM PDT
Reports that Apple CEO Steve Jobs got a liver transplant out of state have blogs and social networking buzzing with questions. One of the most troubling is whether his notoriety or money played a role in securing that reported organ transplant.

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Jobs is not talking about his liver transplant but Methodist University Hospital confirms that he received a transplant at their facility in Tennessee.

Nationwide, there are more than 16,000 people waiting for liver transplants. California has the longest list with nearly 3,500 people. While it is not the shortest list, Tennessee has 229 people waiting for a liver.

Jobs can certainly afford to travel at a moment's notice and many doctors suspect he was on multiple waiting lists. That is not illegal and it would give him a medical advantage.

"They have the ability to maybe receive an organ in a shorter amount of time because that waiting list is shorter in that geographic area," explained Sandy Andrada with the California Transplant Donor Network.

Although the waiting time for a liver varies by location, where someone is on a list does depend on how sick he or she is.

Since 2002, liver transplants in the United States have been based on a specific calculation that uses three routine lab tests. The resulting number is called a MELD score. For adults the MELD score ranges from six to 40. The higher the number is, the greater the urgency. Doctors begin to recommend a liver transplant with a score of 15 or higher.

Andrada says some of the Jobs speculation on social networking sites is just wrong.

"Rich people do not jump to the top of the list. Celebrities don't either. We don't know the details of this particular transplant, but there is a fair allocation system in the United States," said Adrada.

Apple has repeatedly said Steve Jobs will return to work by the end of June 2009.

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