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Making the Rounds with Dr. Carl Backer

July 30, 2020 / in Children, Heart health, Our people / by UK HealthCare

For this week’s Making the Rounds, we caught up with Carl L. Backer, MD, chief of pediatric cardiac surgery and director of the UK Kentucky Children’s Hospital division of our nationally-ranked Joint Pediatric Heart Care Program, a collaboration with Cincinnati Children’s that combines the strength of UK HealthCare’s advanced pediatric heartcare with that of our Cincinnati counterpart. 

Dr. Backer discussed what made him pursue a career as a surgeon along with what makes the Joint Pediatric Heart Care Program so important for the people of Kentucky. 

What made you interested in becoming a surgeon – and specifically a heart surgeon?

I grew up in northern Wisconsin. My father was an eye surgeon. So I learned early on kind of the joys and the responsibilities of being a surgeon. I actually scrubbed in with him on some of his cases when I was in high school and firmed up my desire to be a doctor when I was at undergraduate at Northwestern University.

Then I went to the Mayo Medical School in Rochester, Minn. And while I was at the Mayo Clinic, I was fortunate to work with some of the pioneers of open-heart surgery and at that time thought what they're doing is really a very special thing, and I wanted to try to do it myself.

Why is the Joint Pediatric Heart Care Program so important for the people of Kentucky?

We can offer care relatively close to home for a lot of patients from the Kentucky region. These patients, when they have open heart surgery, they don't go home the same day. So, they're usually in the hospital anywhere from 3-10 days, and I think it's a lot easier for the families if they don't have to travel too far for that kind of service.

The mission of our group is to take care of the children in Kentucky that need open-heart surgery, and we've developed a joint program with Cincinnati Children's Hospital. Cincinnati, of course, is the number 3 children's hospital in the country. 

Our motto is "one program, two sites." And we spend a lot of time working with the group in Cincinnati to ensure that we provide the best possible care for the children.

What are the best parts of your job?

One of the best parts of my job is when I get to come out and talk to the families after we finished an open-heart operation and tell them that everything went well and their child is doing well. 

And I feel comfortable that I'm bringing that child up to our cardiac care unit where I know they're going to get fantastic care and really can see that they're going to be leaving the hospital in three to five days so much healthier than they were when they came in.


Watch our full interview with Dr. Backer.


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