Update: Oscar Munoz Received Heart Transplant; Outlook Optimistic

“…while Mr Munoz will be alive after his transplant, I suspect his activity of daily living (ADL) will be severely compromised. I really cannot see how he will take on the daily activities as a CEO of a Fortune 500 company especially given the fact that his participation in that activity probably was one of several causes that lead up to the MI in the first place.”

This was part of the response which was posted by InsideFlyer member radonc1951 after two official updates pertaining to the health of Oscar Munoz were released from United Airlines.

Oscar Munoz — who replaced Jeff Smisek on Tuesday, September 8, 2015 as the chief executive officer of United Airlines — suffered a heart attack on Thursday, October 15, 2015. Brett J. Hart was appointed as interim chief executive officer by the board of directors of United Airlines while Munoz — who shared an update on his health in November of 2015 — is on medical leave.

First Official Update

This is the text of the first official update which was released from United Airlines on Wednesday, January 6, 2016.

United Provides Update on Health Status and Anticipated Return of CEO Oscar Munoz

United Airlines today announced that Oscar Munoz, the company’s president and CEO, underwent a heart transplant operation early today and is in recovery. A transplant was considered the preferred treatment and was not the result of a setback in his recovery. The United team wishes Oscar well during his recovery, and expects him to return to United at the end of the first quarter or the beginning of the second quarter.

The company will provide additional information in the next 24 hours.

Second Official Update

This is the text of the second official update which was released from United Airlines on Thursday, January 7, 2016.

United Provides Additional Update on Health Status of CEO Oscar Munoz

United Airlines today announced that Oscar Munoz, the company’s president and CEO, is currently recovering well following the heart transplant he received on Jan. 6, 2016. He is still expected to return from his previously announced medical leave at the end of the first quarter or the beginning of the second quarter of 2016. Brett J. Hart will continue as the acting CEO until Munoz’s return.

In a letter to employees on Nov. 5, 2015, Munoz stated that he expected to return full time in the first quarter of 2016. Since his heart attack on Oct. 15, 2015, Munoz has been progressing well, with the assistance of an implanted medical device.  A transplant was considered to be preferable to long-term reliance on the implanted device and was not the result of a setback in his recovery. Munoz had been cleared to return to work prior to the transplant. Since early December, Munoz had been gradually resuming company-related activities in collaboration with Hart, visiting with employees, and participating in meetings at the company’s headquarters.

Dr. Duc Pham, MD, Director of the Northwestern Medicine Heart Transplant Program, commented, “The surgical team was quite pleased with how the procedure went.  The patient’s early course has been excellent, and the transplanted heart is functioning very well.  We are very optimistic about his prospects for a complete recovery.”

“Given Mr. Munoz’s excellent physical condition and the rapid pace of his recovery prior to the transplant, we expect a quick recovery and a return to his duties as CEO,” said Patrick M. McCarthy, MD, Chief of Cardiac Surgery for Northwestern Medicine.

“We wish Oscar well as he progresses on his road to recovery, and we look forward to his expected return,” said Henry L. Meyer III, non-executive chairman of the board of directors. “We take comfort in the prognosis for Oscar’s full recovery, based both on the report from his medical team and what we have learned about transplants from our own consulting cardiologist. We will, of course, be monitoring Oscar’s progress closely and both his and the board’s focus will be on the best interests of our shareholders. In the meantime, the board is working closely with Brett and the full executive team to continue delivering on our commitments to customers and employees.”

“I want to assure all of our customers, employees and partners that as Oscar completes his recovery, we remain focused on leading the company forward and implementing Oscar’s strategic vision,” said acting CEO, Hart.

Oscar Munoz Return Timeline: Too Optimistic?

The timeline for the return of Oscar Munoz to his role as chief executive officer of United Airlines is in line with the recommendation from the Mayo Clinic that two to three months is necessary so that doctors can closely monitor the progress and recovery — as well as monitor the heart for any signs of rejection.

Munoz can look forward to the appointment of a certified transplant nurse coordinator, who will provide follow-up care and numerous appointments for life; as well as a possible battery of tests; a prescription of immunosuppressant medications to be taken daily for the remainder of his life; specific guidelines pertaining to following both an exercise plan and a nutrition plan; and participation in cardiac rehabilitation — among other possible requirements.

With that possible regimen, InsideFlyer member bmg42000 is not so optimistic: “I suspect they will have a replacement by 2nd quarter.”

Oscar Munoz. Source: The LinkedIn profile of Oscar Munoz.


  1. Mickey says

    While the best of wishes toward a healthy and successful life is accorded to Mr Munoz, not only is the corporate black out of the circumstances and consequences called into question as it relates to the company and stockholders, the infinite wisdom of the continuation of Mr Munoz with United is called into question. Of course the conflict of HIPPA and the responsibility of the company to report to stockholders and customers alike actual events is realized but on the heels of the actions of past CEO and President J Smisek which rattled the company to the bones, transparency becomes paramount.
    The survival rate although 85 to 90% in the first year after surgery diminishes approximately 4% thereafter to where the three year survival approaches 75%. The first year is especially critical as 50 to 80 % experience at least one rejection episode, where recipients have an average of one to three episodes of rejection in the first year after transplantation.
    Furthermore to insert Mr Munoz into the same environment as what probably was at least a causative effect is to provide the stimulus to a continuing problem.

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