Heart transplant

An overview of heart transplant surgery at St. Paul's Hospital and what to expect.


St. Paul’s Hospital is home to British Columbia’s only heart transplant program.

A heart transplant is when we replace a person’s sick heart with a healthy one from someone who has died. Organ transplants are only possible because of the gift of an organ from a donor and their family.

People who need a heart transplant have heart failure that is end-stage and no longer treatable in any other way. General practitioners (doctors) or cardiologists refer people to St. Paul's Hospital.

Not everyone is suitable for a heart transplant. If there are other things that can be done to help you feel better, they should be done first. If you have a serious disease or condition that a transplant won't help, then it's not right for you. If you have trouble sticking to taking medications or coming to appointments, a heart transplant may not be right for you.

Preparing for the surgery

Once you receive a referral, our medical team will make an appointment to see you. We will determine if you are a suitable candidate for a heart transplant.

If you are a candidate for a heart transplant you will need to wait for a heart. If you are very sick and think a heart won't be found soon enough, we may talk to you about using a mechanical heart. A ventricular assist device (VAD) can gain you some time while you wait for a heart.

Heart transplant stages

There are five stages to a heart transplant.

  1. Transplant assessment
  2. Waiting
  3. The surgery
  4. The recovery
  5. Living life

Each stage has its own challenges but the team at Providence Health Care is here to help you through them. See our "Heart Transplant Handbook" (available below) for more information about each of these five stages. It also includes information about your part in your transplant journey, frequently asked questions, and encouragement from other heart transplant recipients.

Support for Indigenous Peoples

The Indigenous Wellness Liaison Team is here to support your health journey. Team members offer cultural support and healthcare advocacy. Learn more below or call them at 604-682-2344,62937 or email IWL@providencehealth.bc.ca.

  • Indigenous wellness services

    The Indigenous Wellness Team at Providence is available to support Indigenous patients and their families. We are here to coordinate culturally safe wellness supports and services.