Legendary football coach Gene Stallings will be the keynote speaker for the UAB Transplant Dinner Oct. 6 at the Harbert Center. The dinner honors UAB transplant pioneer Dr. Arnold G. Diethelm, M.D., professor emeritus and UAB transplant surgeon.
The celebration, which includes a reception and a seated dinner, will begin at 6 p.m. Ticket information is available by calling 205-975-5659. Reservations will be accepted on a space available basis.
The dinner, hosted by Dr. Devin Eckhoff, M.D., director of transplantation surgery at UAB, and Dr. Robert S. Gaston, M.D., medical director of kidney and pancreas transplantation at UAB, will honor Diethelm's tireless efforts that enabled UAB's transplant program to flourish.
On May 8, 1968, Dr. Diethelm performed the first kidney transplant, and first ever transplant of any kind, in the state of Alabama. Today, UAB has one of the most technologically advanced surgical facilities in the world and the program Diethelm founded has grown enormously into one of the leading programs in the world.
UAB's renal transplant program is now the second largest and busiest in the nation, doing 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. UAB's liver transplant program is ranked 16th in the nation with respect to volume, has patient outcomes that are among the best in the South and has among the shortest waiting times in the South for patients to receive their liver transplant.
"Dr. Diethelm's determination, skill and leadership have been instrumental in the development of the UAB transplant programs," Eckhoff said. "Although, one of the busiest transplant programs in the world, the focus of transplantation at UAB has always been on delivering the best possible care to the patients. This patient-centered approach may indeed represent his greatest contribution and is based on his insistence that the transplant programs must always do what is best for the patient"
The dinner also will be the kickoff for the program's largest-ever fundraising drive. The proceeds will benefit kidney, liver and pancreas transplantation at UAB and the patients they serve.
"Too many Alabamians remain in need of transplantation services," Gaston said. "This fundraiser is the first step in our efforts to establish a formal comprehensive transplant center at UAB, an entity that will be committed to promoting knowledge of and access to transplantation for the people of Alabama, cutting edge research to make transplantation more successful, and training of physicians, surgeons, and nurses to deliver better transplant-related care to patients in Alabama, the nation, and the world. The standard of excellence established by Dr. Diethelm and exemplified by Coach Stallings demands no less."