Dr. Carl L. Backer is the new director of KCH Pediatric Cardiovascular Program


Carl Lewis Backer, MD, will be the new chief of pediatric cardiothoracic surgery at Kentucky Children’s Hospital (KCH), effective May 18. His primary appointment will be at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, but he will be based in Lexington.

Dr. Backer will lead the KCH division of the Joint Pediatric Heart Care Program, a collaboration with Cincinnati Children’s that combines the strength of UK HealthCare's advanced pediatric heart care with that of their Cincinnati counterpart, one of the country's leaders in children's health care.

Our one program, two sites model has been an incredible success, and with Dr. Backer’s extensive experience as surgeon, leader and educator, he will continue our mission of providing world-class, comprehensive cardiac care to our patients close to home.

Dr. Backer said he is thrilled to be joining our talented pediatric heart care team dedicated to providing the absolute best possible care to children with congenital heart disease.

Dr. Backer joins KCH from the Ann & Robert Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, where he served as the surgical director of the pediatric heart transplant program and the A.C. Buehler Professor of Surgery since 2001. He has been an attending surgeon in the division of cardiovascular-thoracic surgery since 1988, and served as head of that division from 2008 to 2018.

The Joint Pediatric Heart Care Program launched in 2017, and has continued to grow in volume and acuity with excellent outcomes. There have been more than 200 surgical cases performed at KCH through the end of January 2020. Backer is taking over the role previously held by James Quintessenza, MD, to continue the program's record of excellence.

Dr. Backer is involved with a number of prestigious societies and organizations, currently serving as president of the Mayo Alumni Association as well as a director with the American Board of Thoracic Surgery.

He served in the past as the president of the Congenital Heart Surgeons Society, a fellow for the American Surgical Association and the American Heart Association and is on the governing council for the World Society for Pediatric and Congenital Heart Surgery.

He has also served a number of academic appointments at Northwestern University Medical School.

He has authored more than 400 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters, and edited six textbooks on cardiac surgery, served on the editorial boards for a number of publications, and presented nearly 500 papers and abstracts at conferences around the world.

Dr. Backer completed his undergraduate education at Northwestern University in Evanston, IL, and his medical training at the Mayo Medical School in Rochester, MN. His residency took place at Northwestern University McGaw Medical Center, and he completed a fellowship in pediatric cardiovascular thoracic surgery at Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago.

Please help us welcome Dr. Backer to Lexington. All of us at Kentucky Children’s Hospital look forward to his first day on May 18.


Scottie B. Day, MD, FAAP
Chair, UK Department of Pediatrics
Physician in Chief, Kentucky Children’s Hospital
Jacqueline A. Noonan-CMN Research Chair in Pediatrics

William B. Inabnet III, MD, MHA, FACS
Johnston-Wright Endowed Professor and Chair
Department of Surgery
UK College of Medicine