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Cowboy Chuck Heart Transplant

Cowboy Chuck:
A Story of Hearts, Horses and Hope

When this world champion rodeo cowboy needed his second heart transplant in 30 years, he sought out the father-son surgeons he knew were up to the task. Watch Chuck's story >>

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.

FAQ and Resources

Transplant and the COVID-19 Vaccine

Transplant patients may be at a higher risk of severe COVID-19, and we have seen worse outcomes if they do get it. Due to the increased risk, we recommend transplant patients get the vaccine.