Apple 2.0

Covering the business that Steve Jobs built

Steve Jobs' surgeon talks, again

August 21, 2009: 10:09 AM ET
Dr. James Eason. Video clip: Bloomberg

Dr. James Eason. Video clip: Bloomberg

Dr. James Eason, the surgeon who performed Steve Jobs' liver transplant earlier this year, came close to -- but did not actually confirm -- that Jobs' cancer had spread to his liver.

It was Dr. Eason who, with his patient's permission, issued a four-paragraph statement in June confirming reports that Apple's (AAPL) CEO had received a new liver. Eason, the head of transplantation at Methodist University Hospital in Memphis, also revealed that Jobs was suffering from end stage liver disease and was, in fact, the "sickest patient on the waiting list."

This week, as part of a long profile published Friday by Bloomberg News, Eason spoke to Bloomberg's John Lauerman about his career, his medical practice and his most famous patient.

Jobs is "a special person," he told Lauerman. "He's really a genuinely nice person."

The closest thing the doctor came to saying anything about Jobs' particular form of pancreatic cancer was in these two passages:

"[Eason said] that he has replaced the livers of about 10 people with the cancer, called neuroendocrine tumor. While Jobs, 54, has confirmed he had the same rare tumor treated five years ago, he hasn't said whether the transplant was carried out to address a recurrence of the cancer ...

"Eason said he will only perform a liver transplant on a neuroendocrine tumor patient when certain that he can eliminate all the spreading cancer. His results with these patients have been about the same as those with other liver-cancer sufferers, about 70 percent of whom have healthy organs five years after surgery, he said." (link)

And that's it. The rest of the story is background and color about Eason's medical career, which was uprooted after Hurricane Katrina destroyed his practice in New Orleans and sent him packing to Memphis. There he found a rich source of liver donors and recipients among the region's heavily African American population.

In the accompanying video interview with Bloomberg's Lauerman, Eason once again defends Jobs against charges that he was "gaming the system" by traveling from California to Tennessee to get his new liver. Click here for the link to video.

Apple declined to comment.

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About This Author
Philip Elmer-Dewitt
Philip Elmer-DeWitt
Editor, Apple 2.0, Fortune

Philip Elmer-DeWitt has been following Apple since 1982, first for Time Magazine, and now on the Web for Fortune.com.

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