A trusted name in transplant

As one of the nation’s first transplant centers, we’ve been transplanting kidneys for more than 55 years. After more than 12,000 kidney transplants, our highly experienced team knows how to help you get transplanted and keep your new kidney healthy.

We offer several transplant options, including one of the nation’s largest living kidney donation programs. Our outcomes are excellent, and our wait times are shorter than regional and national averages.

We are a Center of Excellence for most insurance networks and a certified living kidney donor center for adults and children. U.S. News and World Report ranks us as Wisconsin’s number one hospital.

Why choose UW Health?

Excellence in living kidney donation
Firefighter Michael Rosario standing next to a fire truck with his brother Steve

We have been caring for living kidney donors and recipients for more than 55 years. Serving adults and children, we offer many living donation options and are one of the nation’s largest living donor programs.

Firefighter Michael Rosario received a kidney from his brother, Steve.

Learn if you can be a living kidney donor

Our surgeons are experienced in multi-organ transplants. They work together with our experts in pancreas, liver, heart and lung transplant to manage the complex care for people who need more than one organ transplanted.

As an academic medical center, UW Health is dedicated to doing research to improve the lives of people who need kidney transplants. We lead studies on immunosuppression, kidney graft loss and microchimerism (a natural form of tolerance).

Learn more about our transplant research

Proud member of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) APOL1 Long-term Kidney Transplantation Outcomes (APOLLO) Network, working to address racial disparities in kidney transplant outcomes.

A ribbon that signifies participation in the APOLLO kidney transplant outcomes study

Our patients are on the waitlist for less time before having transplant surgery compared to other centers.

A remarkable milestone
12,000 kidneys transplanted

The UW Health Transplant Center is one of the few transplant centers in the country that has transplanted more than 12,000 kidneys. This milestone shows the center's incredible expertise and leadership in kidney transplantation.

Types of kidney transplant

Living kidney donation happens when a living person gives one of their kidneys to someone who needs a transplant. The donor can live well with one kidney. Receiving a kidney from a living donor is the best option for people who need a kidney transplant.

A recipient benefits from living kidney donation with:

  • Shorter wait time: Months instead of years

  • Long success: Transplanted living donor kidneys last twice as long as deceased donor kidneys

  • Better match: We have several options to match donors to recipients, including kidney exchanges

View our living and deceased donor comparisons (pdf)

Living kidney donation is either directed or non-directed. Directed donation happens when the donor knows the recipient. In a non-directed donation, the kidney is matched to someone who is a good match but is unknown to the donor.

Learn more about living kidney donation

Learn if you can be a living kidney donor

If you wait for a kidney from a deceased donor, you will be matched based on a number of factors, including blood type, antibodies and the amount of time you have been waiting.

If your body has too many antibodies, it will likely reject your transplanted kidney. Antibodies can come from a prior transplant, a blood transfusion or pregnancy. During the desensitization process, we remove these antibodies from your blood. The UW Health desensitization program is one of few programs in the nation approved by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Transplant desensitization with plasma exchange and IVIG

FAQ about kidney desensitization

More than 1,400 people received a combined kidney and pancreas transplant at UW Health. Ours is the largest program in the nation. We also perform combined kidney/liver, kidney/heart and kidney/lung transplants. Our team of experts works together to make sure your multi-organ transplant is successful and returns you to a healthier life.

To begin the kidney transplant process, you can request information from our team.

Request information

Before and after transplant

The kidney transplant process

We want your kidney transplant experience to be as easy as possible. We are committed to making sure you can return to a good quality of life.

  1. 01.

    Our UW Health kidney transplant team will review your health and medical history to determine whether you are a candidate for kidney transplant surgery. During your evaluation, you will meet with physicians and other members of our team. They may order lab work or other tests. This team will share more information and answer your questions.

    Your kidney transplant evaluation
  2. 02.
    Waiting period

    If you are a candidate for a kidney transplant and choose to proceed, you will be recommended for a living donor transplant as well as placed on the national waiting list for a deceased donor transplant if you wish. The United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) operates this list. UNOS matches deceased donor kidneys based on compatible blood type, distance, waiting time, and immune system markers in donors and candidates. While you wait, you will have visits with the UW Health kidney transplant team. We will monitor your condition and provide support and education.

    United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS)
  3. 03.

    We will call you when a kidney becomes available. This can happen any time, day or night. You will be asked to come to the hospital within a few hours. The surgery takes about three hours. You will be in the hospital for four to five days following your transplant surgery. During this recovery time, you will learn about new medications, self-care and follow-up.

  4. 04.
    Follow-up care

    Kidney transplant is a lifelong commitment to follow-up care. During the first year, you will visit the UW Health transplant clinic regularly for bloodwork and tests. Tests will be twice a week at first and then decrease to once a month. These tests determine how well your new kidney is working. Your first visit happens about two weeks after you leave the hospital. Patients who travel a great distance to receive care may be asked to remain local during this period of time. Our team provides lifelong care and support to help you lead a healthy life.

Meet our team

Our team of experts

Our compassionate kidney transplant team works together with you so that your care is specific to your needs. Your team includes experts in nephrology (kidney care), living donation and kidney transplantation.

Together with our social workers, pharmacists, financial counselors and other transplant experts, we support you throughout your transplant journey. Our specially trained and certified nurse coordinators organize your care. They help you manage your kidney failure before surgery and guide you through the transplant process. They’re your go-to source for information, so you always know where to turn for help. Our team provides thorough education to you and your support team. We work to make sure you can return to an excellent quality of life.

Our team is part of an academic medical center, and our research and education are important to your success.

Kidney transplant


Top-ranked care close to you

We offer pre- and post-kidney transplant services and transplant surgery at University Hospital in Madison, Wis. Our kidney transplant team serves pre and post transplant patients in six locations, including Rockford, Illinois and Green Bay, Madison, Sparta, Marshfield and Waukesha, Wis.

Kidney transplant surgeries are performed at University Hospital in Madison, Wis.

National leaders in transplant care

View more information important to every transplant patient.

Transplant services

Patient stories

Stories of hope

Woman leaning against wall and smiling.
Kidney transplantNew kidney changes Nancy's outlook on life
It’s been 18 years since Nancy Hucke received her life-saving kidney transplant, and the image that she remembers most clearly is what she saw right before she went to sleep under anesthesia: Her anesthesiologist was wearing a Chicago Bears bandana, and she’s an avid Green Bay Packers fan.
James Jones ringing the bell at UW Health
Kidney transplantJames Jones is grateful to be the recipient of UW Health's 12,000th kidney transplant
James Jones is full of gratitude these days—he knows just how fortunate he was to receive the gift of life with a new kidney.
Laurel and her sister, Peg smiling and holding a birthday cake together.
Kidney transplantStill strong after 56 years with her sister's kidney
As a pediatric kidney transplant recipient, Laurel O’Brien learned very early that she had to follow all the rules her doctors gave her.
Ambrose, smiling outside.
Kidney transplantAmbrose feels like a new person after kidney transplant
Ambrose Day-Beadeau has a great life: The 18-year-old is finishing his last year of high school; he works a part-time job at the local Goodwill and, as a member of the Oneida nation, he enjoys traveling with his family every weekend to pow wows across the United States.
Two couples standing in a shelter
Kidney transplantWith UW's help, Linda finds the perfect match
My journey towards the world of polycystic kidney disease and kidney transplant began in the early 1990's when my father was diagnosed with the disease and his physician suggested his children also be checked for this condition.
Jamila Hudson and her family show the Badger W
Kidney transplantMilwaukee-area woman gets life changing kidney transplant during pandemic
On March 11, 2020, the day the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a worldwide pandemic, the course of Jamila Hudson’s life changed forever.

More stories of success

Patient support services

Resources for patients and families

Frequently asked questions about kidney transplant

Celebrate your organ anniversary

Transplant recipients are often looking for a way to share their gratitude for the gift of life they received. An organ transplant anniversary date is a good time to remind people about the difference that an organ donor made.

Learn more