How Steve Jobs Got His 2009 Liver Transplant So Quickly
By Chad Upton | Editor
When I was about 7 years old, my grade school classroom had an Apple II computer stashed in the corner of the room. I remember the excitement when our teacher said we could use the computer after we finished all of our work, even though I had no idea how to use it. Nobody knew how to use it, except for Woody.
Woody was the only kid who had a computer at home and it too was an Apple II. Since that was the first affordable mass-market computer, if any home or small business had a computer, it was usually an Apple.
Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak started the personal computer revolution. There’s no doubt it would have happened without them, but who knows when. Steve Wozniak had the drive to build prototypes of computers just for fun while his partner Steve Jobs had the vision and drive to sell them to people who didn’t know how to use them, like some other products Apple has recently been successful with.
When Steve Jobs passed away, his assets were estimated to be around $6 billion. With that kind of wealth, you could buy almost anything. So, when he received a liver transplant in 2009, a lot of people suggested that he bought his way to the top of the waiting list. How else could he have skipped ahead of 16,000 other people?
His wealth did help him, but not in the way that some have implied.
He was on the transplant waiting list. Well, he was actually on more than one waiting list. Some have even speculated that he was on all of the waiting lists.
So, why doesn’t everyone do this? The rule at the time was that you needed to be within 4 hours of the transplant hospital. For most people, that significantly reduces the number of transplant lists you could be on. But, if you’re a billionaire with a private jet on standby, you’re within 4 hours of a lot of places.
Even still, with so many people waiting, how did he get to the top of the list so quickly?
The United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) audits the transplant centers to ensure fair treatment. So, he didn’t likely get to the top of the list because of his wealth or social status.
Since his jet gave him access to almost any transplant center in the country, he did what any smart analytical person would do: he figured out which transplant center had the shortest wait and made sure he was on that list. That’s how a guy who lives in Northern California ends up with a liver transplant in Tennessee. It turns out, the median wait time in Tennessee was 85% shorter than the national average.
The technology that Steve brought us will fade, but his approach to everything, including saving his own life, is the real gift he gave us. When Steve rejoined and began to rejuvenate Apple in 1997, the slogan was, “think different” and that sentiment is Steve’s real legacy.
Rest in peace.