American Girl founder and philanthropist Pleasant Rowland is donating $10 million toward the construction of a new transplant clinic at UW Hospital, UW Health is announcing Tuesday.
Rowland, who has given tens of millions to the Madison arts community, in 2012 received a kidney transplant at UW Hospital, one of the nation’s largest transplant centers.
“This gift today is my way of saying thank you to the team for the incredible care I received here, to the many donors and their families for making such a selfless choice, and as a gift to all the transplant recipients who will come here seeking a second chance at life,” Rowland said in a statement.
The $20 million project will move the transplant clinic, now in the basement of the hospital and a couple of other hospital locations, to the main floor, near the main clinics entrance through which many visitors enter.
The project, to begin later this year and be done by spring 2023, will bring transplant clinic services together in a larger space, reducing trips to other parts of the hospital for patients and providing more educational resources, said Dr. Dixon Kaufman, director of the UW Health Transplant Center.
“This new space will allow all of our transplant patients to be taken care of together, in a very convenient easy location to get to,” Kaufman said.
Kaufman and Dr. Aji Djamali, chair of nephrology, led the team that performed Rowland’s transplant.
Dr. Alan Kaplan, CEO of UW Health, thanked Rowland “for her generosity, her vision, and her commitment to making our community such a great place to live.”
Rowland in 1986 founded Middleton-based Pleasant Company, which created the famous line of American Girl historical educational dolls, and sold the company to Mattel in 1998 for $700 million.
Her $20 million gift in 2019 is helping the $35 million Madison Youth Arts Center be built in a housing and retail project on the 1000 block of East Washington Avenue.
A $205 million gift from her husband, Jerome Frautschi, built Overture Center in Downtown Madison, and Rowland’s creation of an endowment for its resident arts organizations has been critical to their success.
The UW Health Transplant Center, which completed its first kidney transplant 1966, performed transplants on a record 548 patients last year, including a record 315 people who received kidneys, even though the COVID-19 pandemic led doctors to shut down elements of the transplant program for parts of the year.
The hospital last year did the 10th-most transplants among 250 transplant centers nationwide.