Forty years ago, on May 8, 1968, UAB surgeon Arnold Diethelm, M.D., performed the first kidney transplant – and first transplant of any kind – in Alabama.

Today UAB has one of the top transplant programs in the nation; more than 10,000 organs have been transplanted, and UAB surgeons perform 100 more transplants per year than any other program in the South.

The program Diethelm began has a reputation for technical innovation and professional excellence. UAB’s renal transplant program is the second largest and nation’s busiest, performing more than 300 procedures each year. According to the United Network for Organ Sharing, UAB has performed more kidney transplants than any other kidney program in the country since 1987.

Kidneys were only the first milestone for UAB’s transplant program. The first heart transplant in the Southeastern region took place at UAB in 1981 and was followed by liver transplants in 1983, the first simultaneous pancreas/kidney transplant in 1988 and lung transplants in 1989.