HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Concordia University School of Law

Friday, June 26, 2009

Steve Jobs and Organ Transplants

Recently, it came to light that Steven Jobs, Apple's CEO, received a liver transplant.  There exist some concerns for those who worry about corporate disclosure issues and health privacy for CEOs but the transplant also raised again the troubling issue about how organs are distributed in this country.  The Chicago Tribune has a brief report containing an interview with Professor Arthur Caplan.  Greg Burns writes,

If Apple Inc. co-founder Steve Jobs used his billions to obtain a new liver ahead of less-privileged transplant patients, who's to blame?

Not Jobs, says Arthur Caplan at the University of Pennsylvania's Center for Bioethics.  "He did nothing illegal. And pursuing his own self-interest makes sense," Caplan said.

Instead, the blame goes to transplant doctors, the United Network for Organ Sharing and Congressional leaders. They have failed to cut off an inside track that the rich, famous and gravely ill can follow to snare a spare part ahead of everybody else. . . .

For Caplan's take on how the Silicon Valley chieftain wound up in Memphis for a new liver, click here.

Gearlog had a brief statement from Jobs' doctor.  The report states, 

Another bizarre turn in the story came today when Dr. James Eason, the head of the hospital's transplant unit, held a press conference to address the subject, telling reporters, "Mr. Jobs is doing fine."

The hospital held the conference, in part, to address criticism that Jobs's position had helped him climb to the top of the transplant list. Said Eason,

Whoever's at the top of the list, they're there because they're the sickest. Waiting time isn't even a factor anymore. If someone's been on the list a long time, they're obviously healthy enough to have survived for a long time" and therefore by definition might not be the best candidate.

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