The University of Alberta Hospital opened in 1906 with 5 staff members as the Strathcona Hospital. Since then, it has steadily grown into a world class facility today which now is staffed by over 8,000 staff and Physicians (as of 2007). The hospital began training Nurses through recognized apprenticeship program in 1908. In 1916 during World War I it served as the Strathcona Military Hospital. It was the provincial rehabilitation centre for the polio epidemics in the 1920s and 1950s. Dr. Hepburn, a pioneering neurosurgeon, developed "The Edmonton Tongs" as initial treatment for cervical spine injuries in the late 1920s. Dr. John Callaghan performed Canada's first open-heart surgery here in 1956, and the first heart valve replacement 6 years later in 1962. The first heart transplant in Western Canada was performed at the hospital in 1985, by 2001 the hospital had conducted 500 heart and heart-lung transplants. In 2001 the Stollery Children's Hospital opened. In 2006, the hospital had the most technically advanced and only intensive care unit dedicated solely to the treatment of burn patients.
The Stollery Children's Hospital is a 150 bed children's hospital that opened in October 2001. It is a hospital within a hospital being situated within the University of Alberta Hospital.
The University of Alberta Hospital, Mazankowski Alberta Heart Institute and the Stollery Children's Hospital co-reside within the large Walter C. Mackenzie Health Sciences Centre (WMC) and act as embedded, "hospitals within a hospital." With 650, 146 and 89 inpatient beds in the three hospitals, respectively, WMC has an estimated total of 885 beds. The Mazankowski Alberta Heart Institute is located in a new expansion to the WMC that opened on May 1, 2008.
The University of Alberta Hospital is home to the most comprehensive organ and tissue transplant program in Canada - providing gold standard care to more than eight million Canadians across Alberta, Saskatchewan, British Columbia, Manitoba, Nunavut, the Yukon and the North West Territories. No other program offers the complete range of transplant procedures — heart, kidney, liver, lung, heart/lung, small bowel, pancreas, islet, eye and tissue.
The University Hospital's transplant program is claimed to be recognized as one of the best in Canada and the world. It has been ranked #6 worldwide in 2017 by CWUR. It is touted as a leader in both the numbers of transplant procedures performed and success rates. At the hospital, patients can receive heart, lung, liver, kidney, pancreas, intestinal and islet cell transplants.