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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 11,000 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
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.
Our experts perform transplants for patients that many other programs would deny, yet our survival rates remain excellent.
The Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients provides data about each transplant centers’ volume and outcomes. Learn what the Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients means and see how we compare to other programs.
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.
Our patients are on the waitlist for less time before having transplant surgery compared to other centers.
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
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
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
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.
EvaluationYour kidney transplant evaluation
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.
Waiting periodUnited Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS)
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.
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.
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.
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
Stories of hope
Linda and Claire's lives came together to travel the journey of a kidney donation and transplant.
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.
Scott Bader is used to being in control. As a real estate agent, the Sturgeon Bay man woos clients, scouts properties and closes deals. But when he was diagnosed with kidney disease, Scott found himself in a life-threatening situation that tested his limits.
As far as Irina Shpigelman is concerned, her kidneys have always been community property in her marriage. Her husband, Mike, was born with only one kidney. About 10 years ago, that kidney’s function decreased to 13 percent. She told him that between the two of them, they had three kidneys, so they would be OK if he ever needed a transplant.
Lindsay and Holly had good reason to want to promote organ donation — it saved their father's life. Steve Muenchow received his first kidney transplant in 1991, just two years after he married their mother, Amy. She knew he suffered from kidney disease when she met him, and right after their honeymoon, he needed to go to the hospital.
Patient support services
Resources for patients and families
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.