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St. Patrick's Day, March Madness, and Steve Jobs' Liver 129

Posted by timothy
from the human-organs-enclosed dept.
Many Americans are probably rubbing their temples and wandering around with a bit of a post-St. Patrick's day hangover. Reader theodp writes with a sobering statistical consequence of traditional heavy-drinking holidays: "Keep in mind that this time of year has traditionally been very good to those awaiting organ transplants, including the late Steve Jobs, as Walter Isaacson explained in Jobs: 'By late February 2009 Jobs had secured a place on the Tennessee list (as well as the one in California), and the nervous waiting began. He was declining rapidly by the first week in March, and the waiting time was projected to be twenty-one days. 'It was dreadful,' Powell recalled. 'It didn't look like we would make it in time.' Every day became more excruciating. He moved up to third on the list by mid-March, then second, and finally first. But then days went by. The awful reality was that upcoming events like St. Patrick's Day and March Madness (Memphis was in the 2009 tournament and was a regional site) offered a greater likelihood of getting a donor because the drinking causes a spike in car accidents. Indeed, on the weekend of March 21, 2009, a young man in his mid-twenties was killed in a car crash, and his organs were made available.'"
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St. Patrick's Day, March Madness, and Steve Jobs' Liver

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  • by Snufu (1049644) on Tuesday March 18, 2014 @09:29AM (#46515199)

    Organ donation was open source.

    • by buchner.johannes (1139593) on Tuesday March 18, 2014 @09:34AM (#46515233) Homepage Journal

      If it were GPL, every recipient would be required to pass his organs on upon his death. And the organ would perpetually be passed on, because organs want to be free.

      Actually not just the organ he received, but all his organs, because the other components require the one received. Although I guess you can argue a generic API.

      • by segedunum (883035)
        Assuming organs could be copied of course, but that's the usual silly things you see when people try and compare code to real world objects.
        • by tlhIngan (30335)

          Assuming organs could be copied of course, but that's the usual silly things you see when people try and compare code to real world objects.

          Well, in this case, it's livers. And livers have a very stunning capacity of self-replication. It's quite fortunate that such a vital organ to life is so robust - it has extensive self-repair capabilities, it can regenerate missing parts, etc. That capability is often used to turn one liver into multiple (if the patients don't need full functionality immediately), or to

          • by cayenne8 (626475)

            Well, in this case, it's livers. And livers have a very stunning capacity of self-replication. It's quite fortunate that such a vital organ to life is so robust - it has extensive self-repair capabilities, it can regenerate missing parts, etc. That capability is often used to turn one liver into multiple (if the patients don't need full functionality immediately), or to remove cirrhosis in its early stages. (Heck, it takes a LOT to get liver cirrhosis)

            In that case, I almost think I'd like Keith Richard's l

        • by omnichad (1198475)

          Have you heard of Monsanto?

          No, copying an organ is not possible yet. But using your own DNA and either a stem cell, scaffolding, and growth medium or a fancy 3D printer, it's likely the future of medicine. The source code is definitely not GPL, however.

      • by bigwheel (2238516) on Tuesday March 18, 2014 @09:58AM (#46515381)

        GPL Sounds reasonable. In order to receive organs from other donors, you must also consent to be a donor.

        • by Guppy (12314)

          GPL Sounds reasonable. In order to receive organs from other donors, you must also consent to be a donor.

          I think you may want to put in an exception for pediatric patients. And, if you allow last-minute-converts, such a rule would mostly be symbolic.

          • I think pediatric donors are covered by parental consent or lack thereof (which you could presumably gather ahead of time, exactly as you gather the parents' own consent ahead of time) and it wouldn't be terribly difficult to exclude last minute converts: the mechanisms are already in place for people to opt in, and all you'd need is opt-in date to know how recently they filed, which would allow you to either establish blanket minimums or category minimums based on how far ahead a given organ usually gives
        • by westlake (615356)

          GPL Sounds reasonable. In order to receive organs from other donors, you must also consent to be a donor.

          The successful donor organ will most likely come from the fit young adult who dies in a traffic accident.

          Meaning a kid in his late teens or early twenties who still considers himself immortal. You won't get his consent unless you require if to obtain a driver's license, motor vehicle permit or something else he wants badly enough to sit down long enough to complete the necessary paperwork. .

        • I think the needed immune-suppressants would invalidate them for donation. Cute idea regardless. Maybe only people that have been registered donors for six months can receive donations. I have no idea what kind of license that would be.
        • by RockDoctor (15477)

          GPL Sounds reasonable. In order to receive organs from other donors, you must also consent to be a donor.

          That would be gamed.

          If such a system is going to have a reasonable chance of working, then the system would need to be more on the form "if you need a transplant AND you were on the database as a registered organ donor MORE THAN A YEAR AGO, then [go onto other steps in arranging an organ transplant, like locating a donor]"

          In short, if you don't volunteer your organs, you don't get to benefit from other

    • by Chrisq (894406)

      Organ donation was open source.

      I know this is a joke, but I'm sure that there were patent royalties on many of the drugs, tests, and much of the equipment used in the treatment and that Steve Jobs probably didn't object to this cost being passed on to him.

      • There is also the cost of the liver. A liver sells for about $70,000 [transplantliving.org]. It is, of course, illegal for the donor, or the donors family to receive any of that money, but the hospitals can, and do, buy and sell organs. By cutting the donors out, the hospitals not only get to keep all the money, but they raise the price by artificially restricting the supply.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Too bad Steve Jobs didn't promote the cause of organ donation the way he did his iProducts. He might have made a real difference in the world.

  • by smooth wombat (796938) on Tuesday March 18, 2014 @09:36AM (#46515245) Homepage Journal

    until the last second to begin real treatment, things might have turned out better.

    Instead, Jobs abandoned common sense and reason in favor of hocus pocus, "alternative" crap which did absolutely nothing to help his condition and may in fact have contributed to its severity.

    There's a reason real medicines are tested and "alternative medicine" isn't. If they weren't alternative, they would be listed as medicine, used every day and give tangible results.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Wow, you sure told that Mr. Jobs. He'll be more careful next time.

    • by Assmasher (456699)

      To be fair to Jobs, who I personally despised as a person, he always looked at the world as he wanted it to be - not how it was. Sometimes he managed to reshape bits of it to match his 'reality.' He seemed to believe that you could will things to change and, in some respects, he was right. I wouldn't expect him to be any different regarding healthcare.

      That being said, the manner in which he got his liver was unethical, and he was a terrible person.

      Long live The Woz!

      • by chihowa (366380) *

        This seems to be a common failing among people who are good at manipulating other people into doing what they want. They conflate the ability to direct other people into fulfilling their wishes with the ability to make things happen by force of will (not realizing that their "power" only applies to things that people can actually change). It's probably confounded by the legions of yes-men who surround these people and further distance them from reality.

        • by Assmasher (456699)

          I agree; however, I don't think it's always a case of "yes-men" because people like Jobs can be very persuasive - although I'll admit that this type of behavior results in something equivalent to the "yes-men" syndrome. Hell, it's the basis of Scientology. People are often more than happy to be sheep, it takes the weight of responsibility off their shoulders.

      • by pnutjam (523990)
        I think someone who puts themselves on multiple transplant lists is doing a good job of seeing the world the way it is. He did do a good job of convincing people he did one thing, but he was not really doing anything of the sort.
        • by Assmasher (456699)

          Well... I think his doctor, and reality, slapped him in the face in the last two years of his life.

    • by kimvette (919543) on Tuesday March 18, 2014 @10:15AM (#46515451) Homepage Journal

      FWIW there are plenty of herbs which do work for specific ailments or enhance certain bodily functions, but unfortunately the real benefits of a handful of herbs are associated with a whole lot of bullcrap and hype such as homeopathy (where it is claimed a "molecular imprint" becomes stronger/more effective the more you dilute it, such that there may not even be any of the specified compount present in the vial), and is also associated with the likes of anti-vaxxers.

      The biggest problem with herbal remedies is there are few scientific studies done to back up the claims, and most of the herbal remedy vendors of course are probably very disinterested in backing such studies, and the homeopathy vendors (the makers of those little vials which have "30x"/"60x"/"240x"/etc. numbers on them) know what they're selling is false hope/snake oil/bullshit so they certainly would not back formalized peer-reviewed studies.

      But, there are herbs (garlic for example) which can help fight certain sicknesses and lower cholesterol, herbs (ginseng) which can tweak your metabolic rate, herbs (cannabis, chaparral, milk thistle, and others) which help fight cancer (NOT as a primary treatment but in addition to chemotherapy, cyberknife/radiation, etc), herbs which can increase lactation (goats' rue, fenugreek, anise, blessed thistle, fennel), and so on. But trying to sort out the legitimate from the nonsense is difficult at best due to the lack of formalized studies; one only has anecdotes to go by.

      To rely only on herbal remedies was indeed foolish in Jobs' case. As it is only 20% last beyond one year with treatment. Last week I lost a friend to pancreatic cancer - he did herbals in conjunction with chemo and lasted four and a half years after diagnosis (his prognosis was 3 months when diagnosed). He improved for a bit, then got much worse when he decided he had enough and quit all treatments (western medicine and herbal, including cannabis), then got back on after it metastasized, and then from there it was a rapid progression of the cancer.

      Pancreatic cancer is no joke - people like Steve Jobs (Apple Computer), Richard Wright (Pink Floyd), Luciano Pavarotti (Operatic tenor), Patrick Swayze (actor) all go to prove that all the money in the world can't save you.

      I lost two friends to pancreatic cancer in the last year in a half and in both cases it was partly their fault for getting false hope and quitting treatments when their tumors were down to "almost" nothing. Please don't screw around with herbals or at minimum don't rely on just herbals - see an oncologist and maybe, just maybe you'll be among the 4% that beat it. I will always wonder if my friends could have ultimately beaten it.

      Ultimately the best treatment is risk management: don't smoke, manage stress properly, eat few to no processed foods, don't overload on refined carbs, and get plenty of exercise. Preventive measures are free and far more effective than any treatment after the fact but even then it doesn't guarantee you won't get stricken with it.

      • > The biggest problem with herbal remedies is there are few scientific studies done to back up the claims

        No, the real problem with herbs is that the people who advocate alternative medicine encourage people to not get proper treatment.

        Steve Jobs would likely be alive today if he had undergone treatment by modern scientific medicine instead of woo bullshit.

        • by TheCarp (96830)

          > Steve Jobs would likely be alive today if he had undergone treatment by modern scientific medicine
          > instead of woo bullshit.

          so we should put that in the Pro-herbs collumn then?

      • by the eric conspiracy (20178) on Tuesday March 18, 2014 @11:14AM (#46515903)

        One thing to be aware of is that there is more than one type of pancreatic cancer. The most common type (95%) is very aggressive and by the time it is detected in most people it is too late. 5 year survival of stage 1 cases is only 12%.

        The other type (5%) creates slow growing or even benign (neuroendocrine) tumors. This is what Steve Jobs had. 5-year survival of stage 1 cases is 61%.

        Steve Jobs delayed treatment by going off on alternative medicine until the cancer advanced to stage IV. At that point survival rates are 15% or so.

        Basically Steve committed misguided suicide. Who ever advised him in this foolish escapade should be in jail.

        • Making bad decisions and giving bad advice is not and should not be a crime, unless you are a practicing doctor or lawyer.

          Jobs made his own decisions, theres no need to blame someone else as if he was not a grown man capable of doing all of the necessary research. For whatever reason people today have a really tough time with the idea of "personal responsibility"; Jobs had a responsibility to consult with medical professionals and make good decisions about his health.

          • Jobs was not merely taking advise and self treating. He was seeing quacks who were giving him treatment programs like juice fasts and acupuncture.

            These people should be in jail.

      • Nobody's saying that there aren't herbs that can't help. Asprin is found in a variety of natural sources. But here's the thing, the reason why Asprin isn't an "alternative medicine" is simply this: it's been subject to some double blind tests, and found to work.

        That's it. That's all. The moment a mix of freshly squeezed orange juice, oregano, and that cheese-like substance you found under your toaster, gets tested (and found to work) against specific ailments it ceases to be an alternative medicine.

        • Theres also the fact that even the best herbal supplements can have nasty side effects. Even asprin can do some nasty things in the wrong circumstances.

        • Someone should have given him some tea made from the bark of the Pacific yew tree daily for a while.

          Sam

      • One of the bigger problems youre not addressing is the assumption that if an herb has beneficial effects, then it must have no negative ones by virtue of being "herbal". Of course, this isnt true; one only has to remember that nightshade is of course completely "natural" and "herbal" and also terribly poisonous.

        Some examples:
        St Johns Wort [wikipedia.org] can have a number of bad drug interactions, can work poorly with folks with bi-polar disorder, and can have a number of other undesirable effects.
        Pennyroyal [wikipedia.org] is apparently

        • by kimvette (919543)

          Again, the lack of well-conducted peer-reviewed scientific studies. . . of course there are contraindications and many may not even be remotely suspected because there haven't been many studies, and a bunch of quacks are recommending all kinds of random herbs and ground animal parts for various ailments (both real and imagined)

        • by sjames (1099)

          I really don't understand what makes people think at the same time that herbs are powerful medications and that they cannot have side effects or be overdosed.

          I make a tea containing ephedra to control flu symptoms that works wonders. The diet/energy pills contain more than a weeks worth in a single capsule and people take several a day for months on end, then wonder why it causes problems.

    • by rainer_d (115765)
      Well, he chose to do differently.
      His son is into cancer research. Will be interesting to see what he can come up with.
    • So, it's worth noting that the liver transplant being discussed in the summary was a success and he went on to be CEO again for the next few years, overseeing the launch of the iPad and iCloud (which it sounded like he had some major high hopes for, but which has so far come up remarkably short). He later died of pancreatic cancer, and you're quite right about him not seeking proper treatment in time.

    • by tverbeek (457094)

      He fell victim to his own reality distortion field.

    • by pnutjam (523990)
      The tragedy of convincing yourself you are always the smartest person in the room.
    • by Zebedeu (739988)

      There's a reason real medicines are tested and "alternative medicine" isn't.

      That's not true. Alternative medicine has been tested, in some cases extensively, and proven not to work beyond the placebo effect.

      In the rare cases that it does work (some traditional herbal concoction turns out to actually have medicinal properties) it stops being labelled "alternative medicine" and joins the ranks of "real medicine".
      That's the irony of alternative medicine -- if it does work, it's no longer alternative. Proponents of alternative medicine are essentially trusting their health to the exact

  • ... feed the ghouls.
  • by srussia (884021) on Tuesday March 18, 2014 @10:46AM (#46515679)
    Sure, the quantity is great, but the quality not so much...
  • Helmet laws suck.

    Don't ever wear one when riding your donorcycle.

    • by fermion (181285)
      It is like smoking. Sure it causes increased hospital bills, but think of how much the US saves on social security payments from those who willingly give up their life to an early death.

      of course alcohol is a bit more complex. It often takes the life of those that the US has invested in, in terms of schooling, medical payments, etc, but has not received any return in the investment. As in this case, the US has probably invested the quarter million to raise the kid, then he was killed after he paid what,

  • So does Hep-C and Nyquil overdoes.
  • Irony? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by linear a (584575) on Tuesday March 18, 2014 @11:10AM (#46515875)
    Wouldn't you expect St. Patrick's day to *reduce* the overall number of livers available.
    • 1 some folks are drunk but still have functional PARTS of a liver (plus they can provide other organs)
      2 of course there are cases where the donor is the "other" guy (drunk t-bones another car and the other car has the donor inside)

    • Alcohol is slow poison.

      You have to be full on 'Leaving LasVegas' drunk, all the time, to fry your liver while still young. Most 'heavy drinkers' do OK until their 40s or later. Even longer if they remember to eat some real food between binges.

      There are 'do gooders' who want to fortify whino booze with all the water soluble vitamins.

      • by stoploss (2842505)

        There are 'do gooders' who want to fortify whino booze with all the water soluble vitamins.

        This is a good plan, unless you truly are misanthropic. Adding B vitamins to alcohol would reduce the deleterious effects while not compromising the functionality of the alcohol. I doubt it would have a serious effect on the price or flavor.

        I would, of course, mandate that the vitamin inclusion could not be construed as making alcohol safe for abuse (via suggestive marketing).

        This is a better plan than the typical "let's increase taxes on it because we *care* (*cough*wantthemoney*cough*)" meddling public he

        • It would affect the shelf life. If only to preserve the vitamins strength.

          Also note: it will be difficult to write the laws such that normal booze doesn't have to be adulterated and expiration dated.

          • by stoploss (2842505)

            Don't let perfection be the enemy of good. Screw adding expiration dates, I doubt hobos are keeping their MD 20/20 in a cellar to let it age ("...I really prefer the 2008 vintage, don't you, Eustace?" said no derelict hobo ever). Even if the damn stuff ages and the vitamin strength is attenuated, some effect is better than none. So: no expiration dates.

            Regardless, it's a good idea to supplement B vitamins whenever you plan to go on a bender, because it reduces hangover effects (cf. HangoverHeaven in Vegas t

            • Have you paid attention to the legislative process? After all the interests had their say, the law would be a nightmare.

              There is no law mandating iodizing salt (you can find non iodized salt), not sure about the milk. Milk 'market' is a price supported, consumer subsidized, government advertised, overproducing mess of a market.

              You want to hit the Bs, C and D after a bender. Booze flushes all the water solubles right out of you. As you say vitamins are cheap.

              I'm guessing many bums would move away from

              • by stoploss (2842505)

                Personally, my experience is that waiting until the hangover sets in is too late, though I have never experimented with IV administration. I strongly prefer to dose while consuming, acknowledging that some will be lost in the filtrate. That issue can be compensated by dose.

                I still think this would be a public health win, far more so than simply taxing alcohol more. As stated before, my opinion is that the flavor of the beverage is unaffected. I'm sure others may disagree, but at least I have tried this myse

                • The devil is in the details. Like you say, take a vitamin pill. No need for a law.

                  Also you want to give the bums a break on their alcohol tax? Not just no, fuck no. Everybody needs to pay taxes. Progressive rates is fine. But the lowest rate should not be 0 or negative.

                  • by stoploss (2842505)

                    I think the concept is consistent with pragmatic libertarianism. There are several factors at play.

                    1. Health care in the US is irrevocably socialized. The Overton Window is such that a free market will never happen in health care (a truly free market would entail leaving people to die outside ERs if they couldn't pay... it just will never be politically tenable to enact such policies). Ergo, the next best optimization is for the makers to pay less in health care for the takers. Healthier winos cost me less

                    • Do healthier winos really cost less money or less money per day?

                      I suspect dead winos cost the least money. Not my job to overrule somebodies 'party hard, die young' thought process.

                    • by stoploss (2842505)

                      I suspect dead winos cost the least money. Not my job to overrule somebodies 'party hard, die young' thought process.

                      You're probably correct, but then the next logical step is for you to hand out free rubbing alcohol dosed with acetaminophen infusions for them to drink. Or perhaps you could show them how to cook Krokodil?

                      It's a bathtub curve in terms of savings: dead winos are the cheapest for the makers of society, but if you don't want to actively cause their death then the next optimization is to keep them healthier.

                      They are frequent fliers in most ERs.

                    • There's a basic difference between letting someone suffer the consequences of their actions and actively hurting them.

                      FYI one of my oldest fiends is an alcoholic who was enabled by government handouts until he had 2% liver function. Only then did he get sober. There is no doubt in my mind that the government money hurt him by protecting him from the consequences of his drinking. Vitamins could have extended his decades long bender, but would do nothing real for him.

    • Wouldn't you expect St. Patrick's day to *reduce* the overall number of livers available.

      That's the magic of alcohol, my son. It can destroy one liver through chronic abuse as it makes another available via inhibition of good judgement. All hail the powers of demon rum!!

  • Traditionally it's bikers who are the organ donors in spring.
    Unfortunately the helmet laws ruined that a bit.

  • One more reason to hate Jobs. He was able to get on the transplant list in Tennessee only because he had the money to fly out there (to a house bought just for that purpose) whenever he needed to for the various pre-op and post op appointments necessary. There are a TON of these for any organ transplant. Most people don't have the resources to do this. California is the worst place in the nation to need an organ transplant. The region Tennessee is part of is the best. Without his money, Jobs would hav
    • One more reason to hate Jobs. He was able to get on the transplant list in Tennessee only because he had the money to fly out there (to a house bought just for that purpose) whenever he needed to for the various pre-op and post op appointments necessary. There are a TON of these for any organ transplant. Most people don't have the resources to do this. California is the worst place in the nation to need an organ transplant. The region Tennessee is part of is the best. Without his money, Jobs would have died waiting for a transplant -- as would most people in that position. Jobs is scum, but the fault here is America.

      And you wouldn't have done the same for yourself or a loved one, if you had the means? If you feel you need to hate a dead man you've never met, there are plenty of other reasons for Jobs to be hated. Spending his money in a successful attempt at buying himself another two years of life doesn't need to be one of them.

      • by vux984 (928602)

        And you wouldn't have done the same for yourself or a loved one, if you had the means?

        He literally closed his post with "the fault here is America." Answering your question BEFORE you asked it. He's clearly not blaming Jobs, but the system that allowed it to happen.

        Spending his money in a successful attempt at buying himself another two years of life doesn't need to be one of them.

        I disagree. He took a liver that would have gone to someone else. That someone else had to wait for the next liver, in turn push

        • by n7ytd (230708)

          Yes, his post was closed with "the fault here is America", but the post titled "Steve Jobs bought himself a liver" started with "One more reason to hate Jobs."

          You raise a good point with the fact that Jobs squandered valuable treatment time with his homeopathic herbal horseshit.

          As far as I've read, the shenanigans that he employed to be put on the transplant list in Tennessee consisted of qualifying himself as a Tennessee resident, certainly after unleashing an army of minions to figure out that the list wa

          • by guevera (2796207)
            Doesn't take an army of minions....common knowledge that whatever region Tennessee is in has shortest wait for liver transplant. The idea that money makes any difference in the allotment of organs is reprehensible. Jobs, in this case, is a symptom of a diseased system. But, as usual with that scumbag, he sure manages to be example A of how corrupt and evil the system is.
      • If necessary, I could move to Tennessee and support myself in a rather bare-bones fashion while waiting for a liver. Plenty of people could. It isn't for the super-rich only.

    • One more reason to hate Jobs. He was able to get on the transplant list in Tennessee only because he had the money to fly out there (to a house bought just for that purpose) whenever he needed to for the various pre-op and post op appointments necessary.

      It's obvious that you will find any number of reasons to hate Steve Jobs (although it makes you a bit of a weirdo), but reality is different.

      He would have easily got on the transplant list by actually moving to Tennessee, if he hadn't had much money. It would have been less convenient for him, but not at all a problem.

      • by guevera (2796207)

        He would have easily got on the transplant list by actually moving to Tennessee, if he hadn't had much money. It would have been less convenient for him, but not at all a problem.

        Not likely. Most people aren't moving from California to Tennessee while sick enough to be fairly high up on the list. And it's not like you can just drop everything and move because finances are explicitly considered when evaluating candidates for transplant.

        The theory is that if you don't have the resources to make sure you'll be able to keep up with the extensive pre- and post-operative regieme -- including anti-rejection drugs that cost big money -- then they don't want to waste an organ on you. The

  • on the weekend of March 21, 2009, a young man in his mid-twenties was killed in a car crash, and his organs were made available.

    Accident. Sure it was.

  • by dwheeler (321049) on Tuesday March 18, 2014 @03:33PM (#46518791) Homepage Journal
    One big improvement would be to make organ donation the *default* when obtaining a driver's license in the US. That way, people could opt out, but most people just "accept the default"... and then far more organs would be available to save the living.
    • It's not cool to assume that you have a property right in somebody else's body if they don't object, but the same ends could be achieved by giving priority to organ donors and their dependents based on years on the organ donor list. We already do this for living donors.

      The ultimate problem is that such competing systems can't be put into place, even to test them - the high priests of the medical cartel tell us what they think is the best system this season and everybody else has to follow it or face being c

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