CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Recipients are joining surgeons and other staff at Charleston Area Medical Center to celebrate a record-breaking year for kidney transplant operations.

An event was held at CAMC General Hospital Wednesday recognizing a total of 128 kidney transplants performed at CAMC in 2023.

Kidney Transplant Administrator at CAMC, Alice Jones, said the most kidney transplants ever performed at the hospital before had been 100 during the year prior in 2022.

Jones said it was definitely a milestone to acknowledge Wednesday.

“A 128, that’s 128 lives that are saved, lives that are changed, and we just want to celebrate,” she said. “A lot of work goes into transplant, getting patients on the list, caring for them afterwards and throughout their hospitalization.”

Jones said after starting in 1987 as the first kidney transplant program in the state of West Virginia, it has been growing slowly ever since.

Wednesday’s celebration included testimonies from the transplant recipients and a release of approximately 128 balloons outside of the main entrance of the hospital.

In addition, recipients created signs thanking hospital staff of the work they did to get them to where they are today, and they held a parade waving those signs through the halls of the hospital.

They also got a chance to see the various units they were taken to when they were asleep during the transplant process, as well as see the aftermath and all of the work that goes into such operations.

Larry Moore was one of the kidney transplant recipients at Wednesday’s event. He said he had been dealing with kidney problems for a while due to high blood pressure, which he said actually had destroyed his kidney.

After being on dialysis for 2 and half years, Moore said he was fortunate to receive a kidney from his donor, and received a call from CAMC on August 23, 2016 to come to the hospital for the transplant surgery.

He said it was great to take part in the event Wednesday and get an understanding of just how many other lives were saved there through the kidney transplant operation.

“It’s great to know that, I didn’t know that at the time, but to have the number, that that many people passed through these doors to get that gift of life, so it’s great to hear,” Moore said.

Jones said when patients are waiting on a kidney transplant from a donor and are on dialysis, they are just merely surviving, but she said when they receive a new kidney, they begin to thrive again, and she said she is happy to play a role in that.

“Our patients, each one is an individual person, they’re not just a number, we’re not celebrating the number, we’re celebrating the lives that were saved, and acknowledging all of the work that goes into a program like this,” said Jones.

In addition, the Scientific Registry for Transplant Recipients ranked the CAMC Kidney Transplant Center second in the nation for the time it takes patients to be transplanted within just 6 to 8 months rather than the national average, which is 5 to 7 years.

CAMC was also ranked the Best Regional Hospital and High Performing Hospital for treatment of kidney failure for 2023-2024 by U.S. News & World Report.