Overview

A leader in transplantation

For more than 35 years, people have turned to the lifesaving liver transplant care at UW Health. We perform more liver transplants each year than any other program in Wisconsin and are one of the largest programs in the region.

After almost 3,000 liver transplants, we have a highly experienced team. We serve patients with complex conditions that other programs would deny, and we maintain excellent patient outcomes.

We offer several transplant options, which makes our waitlist times shorter than the national average. If you are already listed at another center, you can dual list with us to increase your chance of receiving an organ.

We are a Center of Excellence for most insurance networks, a certified living liver donor center for adults and children, and the only adult living donor program in Wisconsin. We are a Veterans Affairs approved center for liver and multi-organ transplant. U.S. News and World Report ranks us as Wisconsin’s number one hospital.

Why choose UW Health?

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

For more than 20 years, our experts have served living liver donors. We are experts in living liver donation and transplantation for adults and children.

Learn about living liver donation

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

At UW Health, we’re dedicated to improving the liver transplant process. We lead studies on new medications, technology, recovery and post-transplant care. Learn more about our transplant research

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

Types of transplants

Options to consider

Living donor liver transplant

Living donor liver transplant happens when a person gives part of their liver to someone who needs a transplant. Within months, the liver inside the donor and the new liver inside the recipient grow to their correct sizes.

Living liver donation has many benefits. These include:

  • Better survival rates: Patients can get a liver transplant before they become very ill.

  • Healthier organs: Donors go through rigorous testing to ensure they are healthy enough to donate.

  • Shortened wait lists: Living donation increases the number of available organs. This shortens the wait list for everyone in need of a transplant.

View our living and deceased donor comparisons (pdf)

Living liver donation is either directed or non-directed. Directed donation means the donor knows the recipient. Non-directed donation means the donor’s liver is matched to someone unknown to the donor.

Deceased donor liver transplant 

Many people who need a liver transplant receive their new liver from a donor who has died. Deceased donor organs are matched against transplant waitlists in the region.

Multi-organ transplant

If you need to have other organs transplanted with your liver, our surgeons have the experience you need. We coordinate care between specialists in kidney, pancreas, heart and lung transplantation.

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Dual listing
Cut your wait time

Dual list with UW Health to shorten your wait time.

Meet our team

A highly skilled team

Our team is committed to working together to provide care tailored to your specific needs. Your team includes experts in hepatology, living donation and liver transplantation. They work closely with other transplant experts to provide extra support.

As part of an academic medical center, our focus on research and education will keep you at the forefront of medicine. We will support you throughout your transplant journey. We provide education to you and your support team. We are dedicated to giving you the best liver transplant care.

Liver transplant

The liver transplant process

Before and after transplant

Liver transplantation is a complex process. Our team focuses on making your experience as seamless as possible. We will all work together to make sure you can return to a good quality of life.

The process

Our team will evaluate you to determine whether you’re a good candidate for liver transplant surgery. During this evaluation, you will meet with a hepatologist (liver specialist) and transplant surgeon. These doctors will talk with you about your medical history. They may order lab work or other tests. You will also meet with a dietitian, a financial consultant, a social worker and your transplant coordinator. This team will answer your questions and offer additional information.

Your liver transplant evaluation

If you are a candidate for liver transplant and you choose to proceed, you will be recommended for a living donor transplant and/or placed on the national waitlist for a deceased donor transplant. The United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) operates this list. UNOS matches organs to patients based on blood type, weight and degree of illness. While you wait, you will have regular visits with the UW Health liver transplant team. During these visits, we monitor your condition and provide support and education.

United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS)

When a liver becomes available, you will be asked to come to the hospital within a few hours. Your surgery will begin soon after you arrive and may take up to 10 hours to complete. You can expect to spend 10 to 15 days in the hospital following your transplant surgery. During this recovery time, you will learn about new medications, self-care and follow-up.

A liver transplant requires lifelong follow-up care. During the first year, you will visit UW Health regularly for bloodwork and tests. These tests determine how well your new liver is working. Over time, your visits will become less frequent. Our team provides lifelong care and support to help you lead a healthy life.

Locations

Top-ranked care close to you

We offer pre- and post-liver transplant services and transplant surgery at University Hospital in Madison. 

Our liver transplant team serves patients in six locations in Belvidere, Illinois, and Green Bay, Madison, Marshfield, Waukesha, Wausau, Wisconsin.

    Patient stories

    Making futures possible

    Our patients share their stories.

    Tim Knurr ringing the bell at the UW Health Transplant Center, signifying a successful liver transplant.
    Tim Knurr“UW Health saved my life, and I’ll be forever grateful.”
    Tim was the recipient of UW Health's 3,000th liver transplant since the program first began in 1984.

    Patient and support services

    Resources for patients and families

    We offer many helpful resources for before and after your transplant.

    Information for liver transplant patients

    National leaders in transplant care

    View more information important to every transplant patient.

    Transplant services