Apple chief executive Steve Jobs, on medical leave since January for treatment of an undisclosed condition, received a liver transplant about two months ago in Tennessee, The Wall Street Journal reported Saturday.
The newspaper said Jobs has been recovering well and was expected to return to work on schedule later this month, but may initially work part-time.
"Steve continues to look forward to returning at the end of June, and there's nothing further to say," Apple spokeswoman Katie Cotton told the Journal.
When he returns, Jobs may be encouraged by his physicians to initially "work part-time for a month or two," said The Journal, citing an unnamed person familiar with the situation at Apple.
That may lead Tim Cook, Apple's chief operating officer, to take "a more encompassing role," the paper said, citing the same source.
The person added that Cook may be appointed to Apple's board in the not-too-distant future, The Journal said.
Jobs's health, and the secrecy surrounding it, has been the source of intense speculation over the past year, often causing swings in the price of Apple stocks.
The company's fortunes have been uniquely linked to Jobs, a visionary co-founder who returned after a 12-year absence to turn around the flagging tech giant with innovative and wildly successful products like iPod and more recently iPhone.
The blogoshpere was abuzz Saturday over the report of Jobs's transplant.
"The Steve Jobs health story takes yet another twist, this time a happier one," wrote Peter Kafka on the blog All Things Digital.
"The transplant... may be related to a form of pancreatic cancer that the Apple CEO has been living with since 2003."
Jobs, 54, had previously disclosed he had been diagnosed with a rare form of pancreatic cancer in 2004 but said it had been detected in time and he had undergone surgery to remove it.
Last June, though, fears of a recurrence of cancer were aroused when Jobs appeared at a Worldwide Developers Conference looking gaunt and pale.
Then in December, Apple announced that Jobs would not make his traditional superstar appearance in January at the Macworld Expo.
The annual gathering of Apple Macintosh computer devotees was where Jobs, with a flair for the dramatic, had unveiled iPods, iPhones, iTunes, and Macbook Air laptop computers.
In a January 5 letter to Apple employees, Jobs said doctors had found the cause of his weight loss -- "a hormone imbalance that has been 'robbing' me of the proteins my body needs to be healthy."
"The remedy for this nutritional problem is relatively simple and straightforward, and I've already begun treatment," he said. "But, just like I didn't lose this much weight and body mass in a week or a month, my doctors expect it will take me until late this spring to regain it."
Nearly 10 days later, however, he announced his health issues were "more complex than I originally thought" and he was taking a medical leave, putting Cook in charge of day-to-day operations.
If confirmed, the report that Jobs has had a liver transplant would raise new questions about his underlying condition.
The Wall Street Journal cited a surgeon at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri as saying the slow-growing pancreatic cancer that Jobs had suffered from commonly metastasizes in another organ, usually the liver.
Apple has previously drawn criticism from some shareholders over what they have called limited disclosure of Jobs's health problems, the report said.
In this case, it is unclear whether the surgery changes anything because Jobs was already on leave, the paper noted.
(c) 2009 AFP
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