Monday, January 26, 2009

Steve Jobs ? Surgery ? Liver Transplantation

Just got the news about Mr. Jobs, I wouldn't presume to call people at Stanford to get a medical update so I still have no personal knowledge, but they do perform liver transplantation which is one of the surgeries being bandied about. That being said, with my previous disclaimer still in effect here is what I believe is going on.

Mr. Jobs had checked into Stanford hospital over the weekend and is reported to be undergoing an unspecified surgery, liver transplantation being the one most bandied about.
Here's the catch though, liver transplantation is a semi-emergent procedure and, unless you're at death's door from liver failure, you don't check in ahead of time which Mr. Jobs is reported to have done. Patients normally carry cell phones, pagers, etc. and are ready to come into the hospital on a moment's notice once a liver becomes available. Usually this is less than 24 hours since the clock start running when the donor is declared 'brain dead' and a tissue type is obtained. The patient will get to the transplant hospital while the donor liver is being typed and harvested and essentially as soon as the liver arrives at the hospital everything starts moving. You only hang out at the hospital if you are too sick to remain at home since you can wait weeks for a liver to become available and you're actually safer from infection at home.
The one exception to this is if Mr. Jobs is getting a 'living related' donor liver. That is, a relative, friend, or, in rare cases a stranger, who happens to be a 'match' for the patient is willing to undergo surgery to donate a part of their liver to the patient. Not as bad as it sounds since, unlike other organs the liver will regenerate itself (the Greeks has this right with the Prometheus story) and a year after surgery ofter the donor's liver looks almost completely normal. This is the only case where you'd check in a day or so ahead of scheduled liver transplant surgery. Any other surgeries you normally check in either the morning of surgery or a day or so ahead of time.
Once more details, if any, are made public I'll update this post with further information.

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