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Steve Jobs: ‘I was almost one of the ones that died waiting for a liver’

A year later, he talks about the liver transplant operation that saved his life.

"I was lucky," said Steve Jobs in brief remarks Friday in support of a new California organ donation bill. "Because many others died waiting for a transplant."

After being introduced as "the Steve" by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, Apple's (aapl) CEO spoke for only the second time in public about the liver transplant he received in great secrecy last year, answering in the process several of the questions that swirled around the operation at the time -- including when it happened and why it happened in Memphis.

"I was receiving great care here in Stanford," he said, "but there were simply not enough livers to go around. And my doctors here advised me to enroll in a transplant program in Memphis, Tenn., where the supply/demand ratio is more favorable than it is here in California. And I was lucky enough to get a liver in time. As a matter of fact, this coming week is my one year anniversary."

A video of the event is available here through the San Jose Mercury News and posted below the fold.

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Jobs explained that last year in California there were 671 liver transplants and 3,400 people who needed new livers -- 400 of whom died before they could get one. "I was almost one of the ones that died waiting for a liver in California last year," he told a group gathered at Stanford's Lucille Packard Children's Hospital.

The bill Jobs supports -- SB 1395 -- would require that the California motor vehicles department ask drivers applying for or renewing a license whether they want to become an organ donor. Today, Jobs said, "Nobody's going to ask you. Nobody's going to give you this opportunity."

In his remarks, Schwarzenegger said Jobs was instrumental in securing the governor's official support. "Steve Jobs told my wife about his transplant and she talked to me. 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."

Below: The video. Jobs' remarks begin at the 12:48 mark.

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[Follow Philip Elmer-DeWitt on Twitter @philiped]

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