Record number of organ transplants bring new lease on life to B.C. residents

Illustration of lungs inside of a human body

Annelisa Beharrell, a retired nurse from Kamloops, vividly recalls the desperate drive down to Vancouver General Hospital (VGH) as her life hung in the balance.

"The ride down to VGH from Kamloops was scary, but I was determined to make it. I had an astounding will to live," she says.

Upon arrival at the emergency department, Annelisa's condition was dire. "I was basically dying," she admits.

Unconscious and reliant on a staggering 50 litres of oxygen, she was swiftly prepared for a procedure that would prove to be her lifeline: a lung transplant.

"It was a miracle. The transplant team found me the two lungs that fit my chest and the right blood type just in the nick of time."

A record year for transplants

Annelisa's story is not an isolated one. In 2023, a total of 77 lung transplants were performed at VGH, surpassing the previous record set in 2021. The year also saw remarkable achievements in other transplant categories, including a record number of liver transplants (112 compared to 101 in 2022) and 11 pancreas and islet transplants. Kidney transplants, too, reached an all-time high of 168 procedures.

Behind each figure is a complicated medical undertaking and a dedicated team of more than 150 health-care professionals, working tirelessly to orchestrate each transplant journey.

For Annelisa, the impact of this coordinated effort is deeply personal.

"The whole team is just phenomenal,” she says. “The doctors, nurses, dieticians, physios, everyone! I received incredible care. Miracles happen here [at VGH]."

As transplant programs continue to push the boundaries of possibility, Annelisa's story serves as a poignant reminder of the hope and healing made possible through the gift of organ donation. Each record broken represents not just a number, but a life reclaimed.

Please visit B.C. Transplant​ for more information about the record number of organ transplants in B.C. in 2023.