The Comprehensive Heart Failure and Transplant Program at Froedtert Hospital offers outstanding outcomes and innovative transplant options – including implantable devices. We began the program in 1985 and have past patients who have survived for more than 20 years after heart transplant. The program is certified for heart transplantation by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid.

Our Transplant Center is a joint program of Children’s Wisconsin and Froedtert Hospital with vital support by Versiti Blood Center of Wisconsin for tissue typing and research initiatives. Representing the most comprehensive pediatric and adult transplant care in Wisconsin, the program is recognized for nationally ranked outcomes, internationally known transplant specialists and end-stage disease management: a critical resource for Wisconsin and beyond.

Get answers to frequently asked questions.

Outstanding Outcomes

Over the past three decades, our heart transplant program provided excellent results for patients. For the most current heart transplant outcomes data, visit the Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients (SRTR).

Experienced, Compassionate Team

As an academic medical center involved in ground-breaking research, we offer deep clinical expertise and have specialists skilled at managing even the most complex cases.

Patients receive highly individualized care from our multidisciplinary heart transplant team, which includes cardiothoracic surgeons, cardiologists, pathologists, pharmacists, transplant coordinators, nurses, physical therapists, respiratory therapists, cardiac rehabilitation specialists, registered dietitians, social workers, financial counselors and psychologists.

Innovative Treatments Increase Options

As a leader in heart transplant, our ventricular assist device (VAD) program is recognized by The Joint Commission as an Adult VAD Destination Therapy Program. VADs are surgically implanted mechanical pumps that serve as a "bridge to transplant," helping support the heart so more patients can survive longer while they wait for a transplant. VADs can also be used as a “destination therapy” (DT), or long-term approach to improve the health and quality of life for some patients who are not candidates for transplant because of other significant health concerns.

Joint Commission Gold SealThe Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin’s Heart and Vascular Center was awarded the Gold Seal of Approval by The Joint Commission for its Adult VAD Destination Therapy Program.

Our program was the first in Wisconsin to use CARDIOHELP, an extracorporeal membrane oxygenation machine, or ECMO, which is a portable machine for heart and lung support. The device maintains blood and oxygen circulation outside of the body for several hours or even days. Its use adds greater flexibility in patient care, especially when patients are being transported to our hospital for a heart transplant.

Pretransplant Care Raises Life Quality, Decreases Mortality

Working with experts in our Comprehensive Heart Failure and Transplant Program, heart transplant physicians help patients delay the need for a transplant for as long as possible. Using medications and treatments, including VADs, patients enjoy life to the fullest and achieve the best health status possible prior to transplant. As a result, patients in our program waiting for a heart transplant experience less than expected mortality.

International Patients

We are here to help international patients arrange for their care at Froedtert Hospital in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Comprehensive, Coordinated Heart Transplant Care

Once the need for heart transplant is confirmed, we skillfully expedite the process and manage a patient’s care while on the waiting list. Our relationships with the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) and the Wisconsin Donor Network (WDN), give patients every advantage for finding the best donor match. Physicians also consult with colleagues adept at treating conditions that lead to transplant, including adult congenital heart disease – a particular area of expertise at Froedtert Hospital.

Comprehensive Heart Failure and Transplant Program team members are dedicated to their patients’ transplant care for life. From initial evaluation through surgery and post-transplant care, staff in our Transplant Program are trusted advisors for patients as they manage antirejection medications, diet, exercise and possible other heart treatments in the years following transplant.

Advanced Heart Failure and Transplant Outreach Clinic

In addition to seeing patients with heart failure at Froedtert Hospital in Milwaukee, we also see patients at our outreach clinic located in Fond du Lac, Wis.

This additional location allow patients who have advanced heart failure to see a Froedtert & MCW heart failure cardiologist near their home and, if indicated, may facilitate referral to Froedtert Hospital for advanced cardiac therapies, including heart transplant.

To make an appointment with a Froedtert & MCW physician at our outreach clinic, please call 414-777-7700.

Advanced Heart Failure and Transplant Outreach Clinic — Fond du Lac
420 E. Division St.
Fond du Lac, WI 54935

Referrals and Second Opinion Program 

We are happy to work your doctor or with you to explore more options regarding your heart condition.

Refer a Patient or Request a Second Opinion

FAQ and Resources

  • Most people who become candidates for a heart transplant have severe heart failure from one of several causes.

      Ischemic cardiomyopathy. These patients may have had multiple heart attacks or they may have had coronary bypass surgery and no longer have any vessels to use for a bypass procedure. They also may not be able to undergo further stent procedures.
      Idiopathic cardiomyopathy. These patients, who tend to be younger, have heart failure with an unknown cause.
      Congenital heart disease. This emerging group of patients are people who have congenital heart disease that was either repaired when they were children or was never repaired. Now their hearts are starting to fail, and transplant may become an option.
  • There are a variety of treatment options available, including ventricular assist devices (VADs), but there is no one solution for every patient. Before considering transplantation, other treatments generally have been exhausted. While some organ transplants may be considered life-enhancing, a heart transplant is normally undertaken as a lifesaving procedure.

  • Determining who is a good candidate depends on many factors. It can depend on the severity of the patient’s heart failure, overall health and whether they suffer from coronary disease, valve disease or some other condition.

  • While patients over age 70 are generally less likely to receive a transplant, that is not an absolute standard. Age is one of many factors considered.

  • Diseases that could limit the patient’s longevity or ability to recover might disqualify them from becoming a transplant candidate. For example, patients who have had cancer in the past five years are unlikely to receive a transplant.

  • If patients and physicians feel they have exhausted all treatment options and need to consider heart transplant, patients will undergo an extensive evaluation. The transplant physicians and team will review patient medical histories, conduct diagnostic tests and assess social and mental readiness for transplant. We want to make sure that patients are healthy enough for the surgery and able to comply with the care regime required after transplant to keep healthy. 

    Once approved for transplant, the care team will make arrangements for the patient’s name to be placed on the transplant waiting list and will discuss wait times with them. Wait times may vary greatly depending upon blood type.

  • Transplant coordinators make it a priority to schedule pre-transplant screenings all in one day or as is most easy and convenient for patients. It is preferred that tests related to the evaluation are done at our facility so results are timely and coordinated. If scheduling becomes a problem, however, transplant coordinator can suggest other options.

  • Many people are able to resume normal activities and work without limitations after heart transplant. Patients will need to consider themselves heart transplant patients for the rest of their lives, however, as they take medications, have regular check-ups and stay as healthy as possible. Some patients find that other conditions develop after transplant, such as diabetes, kidney disease or high blood pressure. Keep in mind that conditions are manageable compared to the heart condition that led to transplant. No matter what, the transplant care team will be there with the care, tools and support patients need to live the highest quality of life.

  • Heart transplant patients generally live 13 – 15 years after their first heart transplant before a second transplant may be needed. Thanks to today’s medical advancements, it is not unusual for patients to live long enough to need more than one transplant.