Learn about our lung transplant program

The UW Health lung transplant team has been saving lives for more than 30 years. We are a certified adult and pediatric lung transplant program. We transplant complex patients other centers won’t consider, and our survival rates are excellent. Our wait times are very short. If you’re already on a wait list, dual list with us to greatly increase your chance or receiving an organ offer.

We’re the No. 1 hospital in Wisconsin as ranked by U.S News & World Report. We are a Center of Excellence for most insurance networks, Wisconsin’s only gold-level certified ECMO Center of Excellence and one of just three programs in the nation approved to transplant Veterans.

How we’re different

As a member of our transplant family, we will work with you to understand your individual needs. We have a large group of specialists who are dedicated to making things easier for patients. They have never stopped providing the highest level of expertise. Working together, they make sure you get the right medical care and the best possible support. Our patient-centered approach places you at the center of your care as we partner with you and your care team.

Our team is backed by the academic medical center at UW Health. The research and education we do allow us to offer the latest technology, the most advanced surgical techniques and the best post-transplant care. We’re honored to share our expertise with you.

Darlene Johnson from Rockford, Ill. defied the odds after a severe COVID-19 infection left her in critical condition and in need of a lung transplant. The extraordinary grit and determination from Darlene, her husband Lincoln and her entire medical team, helped her overcome a grueling 10-month medical journey.

Why choose UW Health?

  • Shorter wait times

    Our median wait time to lung transplant is about one month. This makes our wait times among the shortest in the nation, which means you get your transplant sooner.

  • Excellent patient outcomes

    Our outcomes remain strong even as we transplant patients that other programs would deny.

  • Team of experts

    Our team of experts have continuously served patients for 30 years without any lapse in care or treatment. Our large group of specialists focus on you. They've dedicated their careers to serving transplant patients and have the knowledge and expertise to ease your transplant journey.

  • Expertise and innovation

    Our team works to increase the number of lungs available for transplant. We have expertise in the assessment and optimization of lungs donated after brain or circulatory death. We use ex vivo lung support to improve lung function. We are experts in managing hepatitis C+ donors.

  • Multi organ transplant

    Our lung transplant team is experienced in multi-organ transplants. We work with our experts in kidney and heart transplantation to manage the complex care of patients who need more than one organ transplanted.

  • Research to support lung disease

    Our team is backed by the academic medical center at UW Health. The research and education we do allow us to offer the latest technology, the most advanced surgical techniques and the best post-transplant care. We’re honored to share our expertise with you.

See how we compare

The Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients provides data about each transplant center’s volume and outcomes.

Current research for lung transplant

A closeup of two people holding hands
Dual listing
Cut your wait time

Dual list with UW Health to shorten your wait time.

Treatments and research

Our lung transplant process

The goal of lung transplant is to help those suffering from end-stage lung disease to live longer and improve their quality of life.

Our team works to make your lung transplant journey as easy as possible. Our specially trained and certified transplant nurse coordinators organize your care. They oversee all aspects of your treatment from initial referral to long-term follow-up. They work with physicians to manage your lung disease before surgery and guide you through the transplant process. They are your personal source of information. Our team works together with you and the people supporting you to make sure you are well educated and are ready to return to a good quality of life.

This includes:

  • Evaluation

    The process begins with four days of tests and doctor visits. This eliminates multiple travel dates and provides faster results. Our transplant team reviews and discusses your case. Together, they decide if you’re a good candidate for a lung transplant and if you need one or two new lungs.

    Your lung transplant evaluation
  • Waiting period

    If you choose to proceed with a transplant, we add your name to the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) waiting list. UNOS matches donor lungs to transplant patients. They consider blood type, body size and other factors to make the match. Some people receive new lungs in days. For others, it can take years. During your waiting period, we see you regularly to track your lung health. We also provide classes to help you prepare for life after your transplant.

  • Surgery

    At any time, a lung or lungs may become available for you. In most cases, you must get to the hospital within a few hours. We will guide you through your organ offer and admission process. Surgery may be planned within hours of your admission or can be delayed. We will keep you informed every step of the way. Sometimes even after patients arrive, we determine that the lungs aren’t good options for you. In these cases, we continue to search for the right match. Your transplant may take three to four hours for a single lung, or up to 12 hours if you’ll be getting two lungs. Your hospital stay will be about two to three weeks. Overall recovery will depend on the severity of your condition.

  • Follow-up care

    After your transplant, you’ll require lifelong follow-up care. We monitor how well your lungs are working and watch for signs of infection or that your body is rejecting your new lungs. Lab tests and X-rays are usually involved. Our goal is to help you have a healthy, fulfilling life.

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Advanced treatment options

UW Health is an academic medical center offering the latest technologies and most advanced therapies.

ECMO is a type of life support. It pumps and oxygenates blood outside the body to support patients whose heart and lungs cannot do that work well enough to survive. We are Wisconsin’s only gold-level certified ECMO Center of Excellence. We offer ECMO as a bridge to lung transplant for select patients and have excellent survival rates for these patients. We have a physician-led MedFlight program for cannulation and transport of patients and work with local EMS and regional hospitals to provide emergency room-initiated ECMO for patients who have cardiac arrest outside the hospital.

Learn more

Many lungs that are offered for donation are not good enough for transplant. This leads to longer waiting times and too many people dying on the wait list. EVLP is an FDA approved therapy that is used to rehabilitate lungs after they are removed from the donor. This allows us to be sure the lungs you receive are high quality and increases the number of lungs available for transplant.

During EVLP, the donated lungs are placed in a sterile plastic dome and attached to a ventilator, pump and filters. A solution and oxygen are pumped through the lungs. This removes extra water and improves lung function. The lungs are continuously evaluated and if they become suitable, are transplanted.

Our Advanced Lung Disease Program helps people with serious lung conditions have the best possible quality of life. We treat patients with cystic fibrosis, emphysema, primary and secondary pulmonary hypertension, pulmonary fibrosis, pulmonary thromboembolic disease and other diseases.

Pulmonary Medicine Service

Lung volume reduction surgery removes or blocks off parts of your lung that are most damaged by emphysema. This doesn’t cure your condition but may help your remaining lung tissue work better. The procedure can involve one or both lungs.

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Patient stories

The gift of life: Patients share their inspiring stories

More than 1,000 people have received new lungs at UW Health. Here are just a few of their stories.

Man standing in front of a monument in Washington, D.C.
Lung transplantTom is able to take Honor Flight trip to D.C. after receiving a new set of lungs
In 2023, Tom Colthurst received a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to participate in an Honor Flight—a free one-day trip during which veterans visit Washington, D.C. to see the nation’s memorials.
Man wearing sweater standing outside and smiling.
Lung transplantAfter collapsed lungs, Bill is saved by double transplant
Bill Graham is well-qualified to act as a mentor for other transplant patients at the UW Health Transplant Center—he has undergone not just one, but two organ transplants over the past year.
A transplant patient posing for a photo with two of his doctors
Lung transplantUW Health's 900th lung transplant transforms Brian
Last December, Brian Zabel walked down the University Hospital halls without needing extra oxygen assistance. It was a remarkable feat for him, considering that he had suffered from lung disease for the last several years. Brian had received the gift of life with a lung transplant, and he was flying high.
Jenny Flasher-Yelczyn standing behind her bicycle in front of many purple and white wildflowers
Lung transplantJenny gets renewed chance at her active lifestyle
Jenny Flasher-Yelczyn is a happy, fulfilled, active woman who loves to help others lead healthy lives through her job as a clinical dietitian. When she’s not working, she and her husband, Mike, enjoy kayaking, canoeing and hiking, both in their hometown of Beaver Dam and in state and national parks.
Randy Hatfield, dressed in a blue collared shirt and wearing glasses and a black hat, smiling outside.
Lung transplantUS Army veteran receives life saving lung transplant
After serving in the U.S. Army for 24 years, including more than a year in Afghanistan, Randy Hatfield has seen plenty of difficult things. He loved serving his country, but his time in the service left him with lasting effects, including permanently damaged lungs.
Sharon Erato, smiling outside
Lung and kidney transplantSharon receives life changing lung and kidney transplant
Sharon Erato never actually thought she would receive a lung and kidney transplant. Oh, sure, she went through all the required testing at University Hospital in Madison, Wisconsin, but she never truly believed her name would ever be on the wait list for a double organ transplant.
Dave Furumoto, lung transplant patient

More stories of success

Meet our team

Knowledge, expertise and experience produce results

You’re in great hands with our pulmonologists, transplant surgeons and certified transplant nurse coordinators.

They work closely with a team that provides you extra support. Transplant nurse coordinators oversee all aspects of your treatment from initial referral to long-term follow-up. The team also includes respiratory therapists, transplant pharmacists, dietitians and health psychologists. Social workers and financial counselors are also available to help you.


Advanced facility

We offer pre- and post-lung transplant services and transplant surgery at University Hospital in Madison, Wisconsin. We use telemedicine to ensure your safety and to improve connections between you and our team.

Patient support

Support services and additional information

The following resources and information may be helpful for you.


These information sources provide answers to common questions we receive.

Lung transplant FAQs

Internet resources

Visit the following websites to learn more about lung health and lung transplants.

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

National leaders in transplant care

View more information important to every transplant patient.

Transplant services