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Friday, March 19, 2010, 04:00 pm PT (07:00 pm ET)

Steve Jobs teams with Calif. governor to push organ donor registry

Apple chief executive Steve Jobs broke his silence Friday on the subject of his recent liver transplant as part of a tag-team effort with California governer Arnold Schwarzenegger to push for reform in the state's organ donor process.

The bill, SB 1395 by state Sen. Elaine Alquist, D-San Jose, makes it mandatory for Californian residents to accept or decline the option of becoming an organ donor when they renew their drivers licenses, according to San Jose Mercury News. Under the current system, residents are free to affix a pink sticker to their license if they remember to do so.

"The legislation would also create the nation's first "living donor registry," allowing altruistic people to sign up to offer one of their kidneys to a sick person," according to the report, which cites Stanford doctors as saying that kidney donation is relatively safe and does not shorten life span.

Jobs, who underwent successful liver transplant surgery at Methodist University Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee one year ago next week, called the current system an "an obscure procedure" with "no one asking the simple question: Will you donate your organs?"

"There were not enough livers in California to go around. I was advised by my Stanford doctors to enroll on a list at a Memphis hospital, because it was more favorable to get a liver there," he said. "I was fortunate," he added, referring to his financial status that enabled him to fly cross country in the four-hour window needed to transplant a healthy organ. "Last year, 400 other Californians died waiting. I could have died."

Jobs, who six years ago also beat a very rare form of pancreatic cancer called an islet cell neuroendocrine tumor, was reportedly proactive in reaching out to Governer Schwarzenegger through his wife to get the ball rolling on reforming the process in his home state.

"Steve Jobs told my wife about his transplant and she talked to me," Schwarzenegger said. "Then we had great phone conversations back and forth. ... He knew that others don't have a plane waiting for them to get to a transplant."



In speaking to other transplant survivors who attended a news conference Friday regarding the matter, Jobs conceded that he stared death in the face for the second time in just a few years but has since returned to good health.

"I'm feeling fine," he said. "I almost died. It's been a pretty good last few months."