On 17th June, 1950 the first kidney transplant was performed on 49-year old Ruth Tucker at St. Mary Hospital, Evergreen Park, Chicago. Dr. Richard Lawler performed the transplant on the recipient who went on to live another five years. In fact, Ms. Tucker died of an unrelated coronary occlusion. Dr. Lawler decided upon the surgery because of the patient’s medical condition. A kidney was procured from a patient who had died of liver cirrhosis. The transplant procedure took Dr. Lawler an hour and half and he was accompanied by 40 other doctors.
However, Dr. Lawler did not perform further transplants, mainly because he had no interest in being a transplant surgeon. It was four years after this event that there was another successful kidney transplant elsewhere.
Here is a video where surgeon Anthony Atala demonstrates how a 3D printer uses living cells to output a transplantable kidney - a procedure that could potentially solve the organ-donor problem.