Kidney Transplant Patient Story: Nyke Block

Watch Nyke Block describe her story from unexpected diagnosis, to her journey with our Transplant Center, that ultimately led to her receiving a life-saving living donor kidney transplant.

The End-Stage Kidney Disease and Kidney Transplant Program at Froedtert Hospital is a national leader in adult living donor and deceased donor kidney transplants. Our program is recognized for outstanding patient survival rates, research, innovation, expert staff and shorter wait times. The program is certified for kidney 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.

At Froedtert Hospital, we performed our first kidney transplant in 1967, Wisconsin’s first minimally invasive donor surgery (nephrectomy) in 1999 and the state’s first incompatible blood type kidney transplant in 2004. The transplant team collaborates with experts in end-stage kidney disease to offer comprehensive, multidisciplinary care.

Get answers to frequently asked questions.

Kidney Transplant Outcomes Exceed National Averages

The End-Stage Kidney Disease and Kidney Transplant Program offers consistent excellence in kidney transplant survival outcomes that meet or exceed national benchmarks. For the most current outcomes data, visit the Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients (SRTR).

While many factors influence outcomes, Froedtert Hospital offers distinct advantages including:

  • A focus on living-donor transplants — Froedtert Hospital has an active living-donor kidney transplant program and participates in a paired kidney exchange program and the National Kidney Registry.
  • Incompatible transplant — Our End-Stage Kidney Disease and Kidney Transplant Program was the first in the state and is one of the few in the country offering incompatible blood type transplantation through its partnership with Versiti Blood Center of Wisconsin. The approach decreases wait times for patients by expanding the pool of donors beyond those with a compatible blood type. Treatments before and after transplant reduce rejection by lowering antibodies in the patient’s blood.

Experienced Kidney Transplant Specialists

A team of transplant-experienced specialists care for all aspects of a patient’s health and well-being, whether they are organ donors or recipients. The team includes transplant surgeons, transplant nephrologists, pre- and post-transplant coordinators, nurses, social workers, financial counselors, registered dietitians and psychologists. They work closely with patients from initial evaluation through post-transplant care. Our team has performed thousands of kidney transplants since our first in 1967.

Through their academic medical center affiliation, care team members have access to the latest clinical trials and the broad expertise of their colleagues. As faculty members at the Medical College of Wisconsin, our transplant experts teach the next generation of transplant specialists.

Physician Referrals

Use the kidney transplant referral form to refer your patient to the Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin Kidney Transplant Program.

Minimized Wait Times

Wait times for living donor and deceased donor kidney transplant are shorter at Froedtert Hospital due to several critical factors.

  • Larger pool of living donor options – Our incompatible donor program and affiliations with the two largest national kidney exchanges increases the potential pool of living donors to a nationwide scale. In fact, in 2013, our program was part of the world’s second largest kidney chain in history, involving 56 participants. Our program participates in exchanges through the National Kidney Registry (NKR) and the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS).
  • Location – Compared to national averages, wait times for deceased kidney donors are lower in Wisconsin. The median wait time for a deceased donor transplant at Froedtert Hospital is lower than national averages, according to the Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients.
  • Affiliation with Wisconsin Donor Network (WDN) – Based on Froedtert Hospital’s campus, the WDN is eastern Wisconsin’s federally designated organ procurement organization (OPO). The network serves 2.3 million people in 12 Wisconsin counties. It is one of the busiest OPOs in the country, which impacts the supply of organs available for transplant. See our FAQ for more information about waiting lists.

International Patients

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

Expert Care Offers Life-Long Advantages

Before transplant, our team of supportive experts works with transplant patients, living donors and families as advocates to reduce risk factors and promote optimal health in all aspects of life – physically, emotionally and even financially. This approach, combined with education, positions patients to be excellent transplant candidates or donors and to achieve the best possible outcomes.

Through our Nephrology Clinic, specialists in kidney donation and end-stage kidney disease monitor patient health and provide best-practice care, including dialysis, until transplant is needed and available. Nephrology Clinic specialists work closely with the transplant team to coordinate transplant care after surgery and for the long-term.

Learn more about the kidney transplant patient and living donor experiences.

FAQ and Resources
 

  • Do I need a referral for kidney transplantation at Froedtert Hospital?

    Most of our patients are referred by their nephrologists as they approach the need for transplant or dialysis. If this is your situation, once we receive the referral, our office will contact you to make an appointment and complete a medical intake questionnaire with you. You may call us at 800-272-3666 to request more information.

  • What happens during my first appointment?

    During your initial appointment, a transplant surgeon, nurse coordinator, social worker, registered dietitian, financial liaisons and a pharmacist will meet with you to evaluate you as a candidate for transplant. If you are appropriate for transplant, we will schedule you to begin the medical testing process. 

  • How do I proceed for a living versus deceased donor transplant?

    Options for a living donor versus a deceased donor transplant will be discussed at the time of your initial consultation.

  • Do I need to find my own living donor?

    We encourage all of our patients to look for potential donors from among family, friends and acquaintances. Some patients have received kidneys from neighbors, church members or people in the community who heard of their need for a kidney. The Living Donor Kidney Exchange, available as part of the End-Stage Kidney Disease and Kidney Transplant Program, provides those who need a kidney transplant with significantly improved access to potential compatible donors.

  • When do I get placed on the transplant waiting list?

    When tests are complete, your candidacy will be discussed at a meeting of the transplant review committee. This committee is composed of transplant surgeons, nephrologists, coordinators and other transplant professionals. After approval by the committee and authorization from an insurance carrier, a patient can be placed on the transplant wait list.

  • How long do I need to wait for a transplant while on the list?

    The allocation or distribution of deceased donor kidneys is a complex system. There are many factors that are considered when a kidney becomes available. These include blood type, length of time on the list, medical urgency and other factors. For more information on waiting times for transplantation, visit the United Network for Organ Sharing.

  • What are my responsibilities while on the waiting list?

    Your responsibilities include keeping the transplant office informed of changes in your address, phone numbers, dialysis centers and your medical condition. You will also need to remain “transplant ready” through periodic testing.

  • What are the risks of having a transplant?

    The risks and possible complications of transplant are similar to those associated with any surgical procedure. During education sessions and consultation, these issues are discussed.

  • What should I anticipate when I get called in for a transplant?

    When a patient is called in, he or she will be asked to report to the hospital as soon as possible. The patient can expect to be prepared for surgery by having a history and physical, lab work, chest X-ray and EKG. The final crossmatch is done at this time to determine if the transplant will proceed. The crossmatch results take a few hours to obtain before a final decision is made to go forward.

  • What are the side effects of the medications?

    Antirejection medications are designed to suppress, or disable, a person’s immune system so that the transplanted organ will not be rejected. This can make patients vulnerable to infection. An upset stomach is also a common side effect. Your care team will work with you to closely monitor dosages and side effects, making all adjustments possible to help you feel as healthy as possible.

  • Where else can I learn more?

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.