February 9, 2021

Local philanthropist Pleasant Rowland donates $10 million for new transplant clinic at University Hospital

Madison, Wis. - Local educator, entrepreneur and philanthropist Pleasant Rowland today announced a donation of $10 million toward the construction of a new transplant clinic at University Hospital. Her generous gift will support clinical and operational growth that enhances the program’s focus on patient-centered care, further reflecting its reputation as one of the best transplant centers in the country.

Rowland, who is perhaps best known as founder of the Middleton-based Pleasant Company (now American Girl), has demonstrated her love for the arts, literacy and the greater Madison community through her many philanthropic gifts and has helped make some of the city’s most educational and enduring cultural landmarks a reality.

But Rowland’s latest gift to University Hospital may also be one of her most personal. In 2012, after living almost 20 years in kidney failure, Rowland herself underwent a kidney transplant at University Hospital, sparing her from dialysis and an uncertain future. Her transplant team was led by Dr. Dixon Kaufman, medical director of the UW Health Transplant Center, and Dr. , chair of the division of nephrology.

“It feels nearly impossible to say thank you enough to the kidney donor who saved my life and to the many doctors and staff at University Hospital who made it happen,” said Rowland. “This gift today is my way of saying thank you to the team for the incredible care I received here, to the many donors and their families for making such a selfless choice, and as a gift to all the transplant recipients who will come here seeking a second chance at life.”

Beginning later this year, the $20 million project will relocate the transplant clinic to the main floor of University Hospital from its current location. Among the many upgrades will be easier access to the clinic, a significant expansion of clinical space, and a more comforting and inviting family lounge. The new clinic will also provide the full spectrum of patient services in one location, alleviating the need for patients to travel to other areas of the hospital.

“The relationship of transplant recipients and organ donors has always been defined by incredible acts of generosity and gratitude, and this gift today is just one more chapter in that amazing story,” said Dr. Alan Kaplan, CEO of UW Health. “For many years to come, this gift will help foster and sustain the health of countless patients from around Wisconsin, the country and the world. We are so grateful to Ms. Rowland for her generosity, her vision, and her commitment to making our community such a great place to live.”

Since completing its first kidney transplant 1966, the UW Health Transplant Center is considered one of the oldest, largest and most successful in the country.

In addition to offering a wide range of transplant services, including kidney and live-donor kidney, pancreas, liver and live-donor liver, heart, lung, heart/lung, intestine, multiple organ, islet cell and pediatric transplants, the Center also conducts innovative research that is helping shape the future of organ recovery, transplant surgery, and pre- and post-transplant care. The Center also includes a histocompatibility laboratory; and serves deceased donors and their families via UW Organ and Tissue Donation.