Kidney Transplant, Pancreas Transplant Leaders
National Leader in Transplant
The Kidney Transplant Program at Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin is a national leader, known for its expertise in kidney and pancreas transplantation.
We performed our first kidney transplant in 1967 and the state’s first pancreas transplant following a kidney transplant in 1987.
Froedtert & the Medical College Participate in Second Largest Kidney Chain in the World
Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin are one of 19 transplant centers in the country involved in the world’s second largest kidney chain in history. On June 6, 2013, the National Kidney Registry announced the successful completion of Chain 221, which involved 56 participants (28 donors and 28 recipients.) A Racine man was sickest of 28 transplant patients in chain.
We take a multidisciplinary approach throughout our End-Stage Kidney Disease and Kidney Transplant programs. A team of transplant-experienced specialists, including surgeons, nephrologists, endocrinologists, nurses, social workers, coordinators, dietitians and psychologists, works closely with patients from initial evaluation through post-transplantation.
Our integrated approach takes into account the whole picture of a patient’s health, which benefits the patient throughout the process. As a result, our program exceeds the national average in patient and graft survival rates. Go to the website for the Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients to see reports on transplant outcomes.
In transplant medicine, experience is vital. We have performed thousands of transplants since our program began, and our physicians have cumulative transplant experience that exceeds that of other programs in the region.
Because many of our physicians focus solely on transplant medicine, they are on the leading edge of new developments and the latest treatment options.
Diseases Leading to Kidney Failure
Many renal diseases can lead to kidney failure and the need for a transplant. We have experts in treating kidney stones, cystic disease of the kidney, glomerular diseases, diabetic diseases, problems resulting from hypertension or radiation therapy, and much more. Our goal is to delay end-stage renal failure for patients with a broad range of renal diseases. We want to offer the best therapies possible to enhance their long-term survival and quality of life.
Treatment Options and Transplantation
There are generally two treatment options for patients with end-stage renal disease. One is dialysis, the process of cleansing the blood by passing it through a special machine. Hemodialysis filters waste products from the blood through a membrane, while peritoneal dialysis uses the patient’s own body tissues inside the abdominal cavity to act as a filter. In some cases, patients can undergo dialysis at home. Peritoneal dialysis is generally always done at home. Hemodialysis is usually done in a dialysis center.
The second option is kidney transplantation. A kidney transplant may be done alone or with a pancreas transplant for patients with diabetes. Transplants can be done using a kidney from a deceased donor or from a living donor.
Living Donor Transplants
Living donor kidney transplants have become by far the preferred method for several reasons. First, living donor transplants can be carefully planned so that the recipient and donor are both in optimal health. Because the kidney is coming from a living donor, it is in excellent condition, and the kidney being removed is immediately transplanted. This minimizes any damage to the organ. Also, living donor transplants can be performed without prolonged periods (years) of dialysis. Thus, recipients generally have better long-term outcomes.
With a living donor, there is often an emotional bond with the recipient, and that bond can have a positive effect on the outcome. The recipients know that someone close to them has made a great sacrifice, and that can help motivate them to take good care of themselves after their transplant.
Living donors are evaluated according to strict guidelines. Donors with potential medical problems such as hypertension or diabetes are not accepted to ensure the best possible outcome for both recipient and donor. While the procedure is very safe, donating a kidney is not without risk to the donor. However, a living donor’s risk of developing kidney failure later in life is about the same as that of the general population.
Deceased Donor Transplants
Transplants using kidneys from deceased donors are also very successful, but there are some drawbacks compared to living donor transplants. Patients needing deceased donor transplants are placed on a waiting list, and it can take months and sometimes up to five years before a donated kidney is available. Once a kidney is available, several hours may pass between the time the kidney is identified and the time the transplant is actually performed. And, while the transplant surgery is planned, it is still done on an emergency basis.
Increasingly, our physicians are performing pre-emptive kidney transplants, which are done with living donors just as a patient reaches the point where dialysis would be required. By keeping patients from beginning dialysis, they are spared additional surgery which is needed to prepare for dialysis.
For diabetic patients with kidney failure, pancreas transplants can be done in conjunction with a kidney transplant. The transplants are usually done at the same time with organs from the same deceased donor. Alternatively, a living donor kidney transplant can be done followed by a deceased donor pancreas transplant later on. Following a pancreas transplant, patients no longer require insulin and can eat a normal diet with the expectation of normal blood sugar control. In the long run, this results in improvement or prevention of secondary diabetic complications such as retinopathy (eye disease), neuropathy (nerve involvement) and vascular disease.
Because excellent follow-up care is critical to maintain and enhance a transplant patient’s long-term survival, Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin offer a multidisciplinary Transplant Clinic to provide a central location to continue care. We conduct screening programs to help detect potential problems before they threaten a patient’s health. We offer specialized screenings unique to our program to help prevent damage to the transplanted organ. Our goal is to optimize each patient’s kidney function and overall health. We also have dedicated post-transplant coordinators who work with our patients to coordinate every aspect of their follow-up care.
Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin participate in basic research and clinical trials involving transplant recipients to optimize patient care and outcomes. Important breakthrough investigations are credited to the Medical College of Wisconsin physicians.
Learn more about the Medical College of Wisconsin’s Department of Nephrology and current kidney disease research efforts.
We are here to help international patients arrange for their care at Froedtert Hospital in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.