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Doctors say United CEO doing well after heart transplant

The doctor who transplanted a heart into United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz says the heart is functioning well and he is optimistic about a full recovery.

Munoz, 57, who has been on medical leave since a heart attack in October, underwent a transplant Wednesday at the Northwestern Memorial Hospital.

On Thursday, United Continental Holdings Inc. released a statement from Northwestern’s Dr. Duc Pham, who led the surgery team. He said that the doctors were pleased with the operation and upbeat about the prognosis.

United also disclosed Thursday that Munoz had a device implanted to help after the heart attack, but that a transplant was considered the better long-term treatment.

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United said Munoz is expected to return to work late in the first quarter or early in the second quarter, later than had been forecast before. General Counsel Brett Hart is running the Chicago company as acting CEO.

Also Thursday, United detailed Munoz’s amended employment agreement, dated Dec. 31, in a regulatory filing.

If Munoz returns to work, the five-year contract would pay him an annual base salary of $1.25 million, annual bonuses expected to be at least $2.5 million and long-term incentives possibly worth $10.5 million a year. He’ll also get $5.2 million in cash plus stock worth $6.8 million to offset stock awards that he gave up at CSX Corp. to join United.

Munoz must work for at least six months this year to get the $10.5 million in long-term incentives for 2016, according to the agreement.

United spokeswoman Megan McCarthy said the company’s board knew that Munoz was on a heart-transplant waiting list and hired its own cardiologist to talk with Munoz’s doctors before approving the agreement.

United Continental shares fell $2.57, or 4.7 percent, to close at $52.63 amid a broader market decline.

BY DAVID KOENIG, AP Airlines Writer