VOL. 127 | NO. 125 | Wednesday, June 27, 2012
House Owned by Steve Jobs At Center of Merger Discussions
By Bill Dries
Some of the veil surrounding the 2009 liver transplant in Memphis on the late Apple CEO Steve Jobs lifted this week as the Shelby County Commission debated whether it should lend its collective voice to a possible merger of the transplant center that worked on Jobs and Tennessee Donor Services.
Dr. James Eason, the transplant surgeon who performed the operation on Jobs, is the owner of the house that Jobs stayed in and recuperated in during the surgery.
He’s also director of the Mid-South Transplant Foundation at Methodist University Hospital.
Eason fielded questions about Jobs as he pushed for passage of the resolution that expresses support for such a merger as federal regulators consider new rules that would limit the transplant center to a smaller area and a smaller pool of possible organs.
The resolution, sponsored by commissioner Steve Mulroy, was approved by the commission after several blunt questions. The questions went not just to the details of Jobs’ stay in Memphis, but whether he got preferential treatment because of his wealth and status or because of the house.
“Steve Jobs moved here and he got a liver real quick because he bought the Chancellor’s house?” commissioner Terry Roland asked referring to the $1.3 million Midtown home at 36 Morningside Cove that once belonged to the chancellor of the University of Tennessee Health Sciences Center.
“I’ve heard those same rumors,” Eason replied. “Steve Jobs did not have to own a house here. … He was the top person on that list that day because he was the sickest person on the list that day.”
Eason later bought the house on Morningside Cove with financing from Regions Bank from the limited liability corporation that Jobs formed to purchase the house.
Eason told commissioner Wyatt Bunker there was no house-transplant deal.
“Absolutely not. All of his hospital care was covered entirely by insurance, like it would be for any other insurance,” Eason said. “I took care of him and visited him in that home and when I learned that it was going to be going on the market, I asked the administrator of the LLC if I could purchase it.”
In past debates on resolutions expressing the sentiment of the commission, the debate has tended to cut along party lines.
In the case of a transplant and donor center merger, support crossed party lines.
Republican commissioner Heidi Shafer admitted her hesitancy on similar resolutions on other issues.
“I do not like government being involved in health care,” began Shafer, chief marketing officer of The Flinn Clinic, a private medical practice. “I think we are going to see more of these issues trickle down to us. … I think it would be improper if we did not consider it. … Medicare doesn’t ask that often for input. If they give you a chance you’d better take it. I think it’s incumbent on us to be weighing in on this issue. This is a public health issue.”