United Airlines released a short statement on Wednesday revealing that CEO Oscar Munoz had undergone a heart transplant earlier in the day.
This afternoon it released more details about the procedure, Munoz’s health over the last two months, and projections for his return. In addition, United reiterated the former general counsel Brett J. Hart would continue in his role as acting CEO until Munoz’s return.
According to United, Munoz’s transplant was not the result of any setback in recent weeks. Rather, the airline said “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.”
In a letter to employees in November Munoz wrote ““Based upon discussion with my doctors I will be back in the first quarter.” Today United said that the return would be at the end of the first quarter or the beginning of the second quarter.
The full statement is below:
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.