Selasa, 23 Juni 2009

Steve Jobs' New Liver

It’s not official, but there are reports in the news media that Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple computers, received a liver transplant recently at an undisclosed location in Tennessee (The New York Times, June 23; “A Transplant That is Raising Many Questions”).

Normally, patients who need an organ transplant place themselves on the transplant list of one of eleven regional Organ Procurement Organizations (OPOs) in the U.S. Waiting times can vary. When an organ becomes available the regional OPO offers it to a patient already on its list, with the highest priority given to the sickest patients and those who have been on the list the longest time.

Most patients sign up for the transplant list at only one OPO, because insurance companies will only pay for an organ transplant performed in a person’s “home” OPO. Nevertheless, patients who are willing to pay for the transplant themselves (and with access to a plane so they can get to the hospital within six hours) can increase their odds for a transplant by placing themselves on the transplant lists of several different OPOs simultaneously. No one has said whether or not Mr. Jobs was on more than one list at the time of his transplant, or how long he waited for his new liver.

For a discussion of whether the current organ allocation system is fair, see “How Should We Allocate Scarce Organs?” in Human Biology 5th ed., pp. 368-369.

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