Steve Jobs Opens Up About Liver Transplant at Apple Event

Apple CEO makes first appearance since returning to work after medical leave.

ByABC News
September 9, 2009, 3:04 PM

Sept. 9, 2009— -- Apple CEO Steve Jobs received a liver transplant from an organ donor in his 20s who died in an auto accident, the technology mogul told an audience at a Wednesday media event in San Francisco.

Jobs' public appearance was his first since his return to work following his medical leave of absence during the first six months of the year.

"As some of you know, about five months ago I had a liver transplant," Jobs said. "I now have the liver of a mid-20s person who died in a car crash and was generous enough to donate their organs, and I wouldn't be here without such generosity."

At the time of Jobs' return to work in June, representatives from Apple, based in Cupertino, Calif., declined to answer specific questions from or confirm reports that Jobs, 54, had received a liver transplant.

However, on June 23, officials at the Methodist University Hospital Transplant Institute in Memphis, Tenn., confirmed to the media, with Jobs' permission, that he received the organ transplantation surgery at that center.

The revelation sparked a debate over whether the wealthy are able to use their resources to game the national organ donation system.

The past experience and high success rate of the surgeon involved in the procedure, Dr. James Eason, has been cited as another reason why Jobs would have made the trip from California to Tennessee for the operation. Still, at the time of the news, organ transplant experts and medical ethicists agreed that the choice would have cut Jobs' waiting time for an organ.

They added that his money and mobility may have improved his odds either by going to an area of the country where there are more organ donors and fewer patients waiting, or by signing up at multiple transplant centers.