A Cut Above
UAB surgeon Arnold Diethelm performed the first kidney transplant in Alabama in 1968.
On May 8, 1968, UAB surgeon Arnold G. Diethelm, M.D., performed the first kidney transplant—and the first transplant of any kind—in Alabama. From that moment, UAB’s transplant teams haven’t slowed down. The first heart transplant in the Southeast happened at UAB in 1981, followed by liver transplants in 1983, the first simultaneous pancreas/kidney transplant in 1988, and lung transplants in 1989.
Today, UAB is one of the top transplant centers in the world; its surgeons have transplanted more than 10,000 organs. The kidney program is the nation’s busiest, the liver program has patient outcomes among the best in the region, and the cardiac transplant program is an international leader.
New techniques pioneered at UAB have opened the living kidney donor pool to more patients. They have also increased access to lifesaving heart and lung transplants for patients from preemies to octogenarians. And for heart patients who cannot wait until a donor organ is available, UAB surgeons specialize in the implantation of mechanical circulatory support devices, which can help patients until a transplant is possible or even serve as a permanent treatment.
Learn more about the history of transplant surgery at UAB in this interview with Arnold Diethelm
Read more breakthrough stories in UAB Magazine's new fall issue.