NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – Sentara Healthcare spent time on Friday celebrating the 50-year anniversary of kidney transplants.

Sentara Norfolk General has the only adult organ transplant program in Hampton Road and performs between 75 to 120 kidney transplants a year.

“Losing a kidney early to rejection was not uncommon in the first year. Only about 60 percent one-year success for the kidney,” Sentara Vascular Surgeon Dr. John Colonna explained. “Whereas right now it is over 95 percent because the tests have gotten so sophisticated for compatibility that we do not ever see that anymore that a person loses a kidney to rejection.

Kidney transplant recipient Richard Weidner reunited with his surgeon, Dr. Jock Wheeler, at the celebration event who performed his surgery in 1978. Weidner says its been close to 45 years since he became ill.

“I would fall asleep real easy. I was turning yellow and drinking a ton of water and that is how I knew something was wrong,” Weidner explained.

Weidner’s kidney’s capacity has dropped down to 10 percent and within 11 months, he would receive a transplant.

Weidner’s identical twin brother, Ray, was found to be a match for a kidney transplant. Ray said that offering his kidney to his brother was a no-brainer.

“There was no decision. I was getting ready to go to California and I just did it before I went. I kind of healed on the way,” Ray explained.

Brent Musgrove received a new kidney after he was diagnosed with Good Pasture Disease, which is a rare disorder that attacks your body’s kidneys.

“It was a blessing for me to keep this kidney this long because it was not a perfect match for me. It is in the hands of the man upstairs and this wonderful staff that has been going on for 50 years,” Musgrove said.

Since the program began in 1972, more than 2,500 kidney transplants have been performed at Sentara.