Oscar Munoz Received Heart Transplant; Outlook Optimistic

“I ’m with others here that I’d probably retire. I know it’s different, but my father had a successful complicated surgery to remove cancer a couple years ago. He was cancer free for all of about 3 months before it was back and uncontrollable. My point is that once you’re doing procedures such as this, you never really know how or when your body will react.”

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

“The husband of my Adm Asst had a heart transplant in 1997 and is coming up on his 20th anniversary next year, and is one of the fittest, most energetic folks I know”, countered FlyerTalk member cblaisd. “We just aren’t privy to the details (nor should we be) of this situation, but a heart transplant is not necessarily a prima facie indication to retire.”

There is certainly no shortage of comments and thoughts by members of FlyerTalk regarding the health of Oscar Munoz, who suffered a heart attack on Thursday, October 15, 2015 and underwent a procedure for a heart transplant. 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.

Munoz replaced Jeff Smisek on Tuesday, September 8, 2015 as the chief executive officer of United Airlines.

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, FlyerTalk member ani90 is not so optimistic: “Good to hear Oscar is recovering well, and I wish him a speedy recovery, but reality is he will almost certainly not return to work as a CEO and it is deceptive for United to suggest otherwise. I don’t think United is being entirely truthful about this and very likely over the next several weeks there will be an announcement about a replacement CEO.”


“My most sincere best wishes for Oscar’s recovery”, posted FlyerTalk member SFO 1K. “This is an incredible event and all we can do is wish the very best to him. Once he’s ready to come back to work, he’ll be better than ever and ready to tackle the challenges ahead. And I’m more than willing to be patient for a man who cares enough to tackle them.”

Although I never met him, I also want to offer my sincere best wishes to Oscar Munoz on a full recovery back to completely good health as soon as possible — and if he is indeed up to the task and chooses to do so, may he return to his role as chief executive officer of United Airlines where he can contribute to the improvement of the airline for the future.

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

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