Thursday, January 20, 2011

Apple's Jobs taking another medical leave

Image by acaben on Flicker. reports that Steve Jobs (pictured right), Apple's CEO and Co-Founder, is taking another medical leave of absence from the company. In the article, Why is Steve Jobs Taking Medical Leave ?, it states that no other information about his health was released.

Jobs has taken medical leave of absences before. The first was in 2004 when he was fighting pancreatic cancer. The second, in 2009, was for a liver transplant. We transplant patients have been taught that our health can be very delicate. We are subject to an increased risk of infection because our immune systems are suppressed to prevent rejection. We also have a higher risk of developing cancer for the same reason. We have to be wary of potential side affects from our anti-rejection medication, too. Plus, there's still a small chance of rejection even when you take your medication as instructed. Any of these things or something completely unrelated to Jobs' transplant could be the reason for his medical leave.

I have been told and read on several occasions that the normal protocol for giving a cancer survivor a transplant is that they have to be cancer free for five years prior to their transplant. The rational is very simple. Physicians want to be as reasonably sure as possible that a patient is cancer free before giving them a transplant. Why ? Any cancer cells still in the body at the time of transplant are likely to begin growing again when the body's immune system is suppressed by the anti-rejection drugs they must take. One way to look at it is that it's like pouring gasoline on a fire. Unfortunately in such a situation, the cancer cells are the fire and anti-rejection meds are the gasoline. The meds allow the cancer cells to take off and start growing which is not a good thing for the patient.

I am not a doctor by any means - just a former heart patient who is now a heart recipient. However, I suspect that Jobs' cancer may have returned. He was right on the edge of the five-year window when he received his transplant. I hope that is not the case. I hope it's something minor and easy to treat. Whatever the situation is, I wish him the best and hope he gets many more quality years out of his "second chance."

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