Faculty Profile

Kirk Kanter

Kirk R. Kanter, MD

Professor of Surgery Emeritus, Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery, Department of Surgery, Emory University School of Medicine




American Board of Surgery, American Board of Thoracic Surgery

Year Joined Emory as a Faculty Member



Dr. Kirk Kanter joined Emory in 1988 and went on to have an illustrious 33 year career during which he performed approximately 11,200 cases, 416 of which were transplants, with pediatric heart transplants being 246 of that number. As an academic, he trained more than 100 residents, and received $6,444,216 in direct funding for his research.

His research interests included cardiac assistance and replacement, the surgical management of congenital heart disease with an emphasis on early correction in infancy, extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) for the management of postoperative cardiac failure in infants, and mechanical circulatory assistance.

Dr. Kanter directed the heart transplant program at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta (CHOA) at Egleston from 1988-2021, and served as chief of cardiothoracic surgery at the facility from 1990-2013 and 2018-2019.

In 1988, he was part of the Emory surgical team that performed Georgia's first domino heart transplant. That same year, he performed the state's first pediatric heart transplant. In 1993, he performed Georgia's first lung transplant.

Under Dr. Kanter's guidance, CHOA at Egleston began offering the Stage 1 Norwood procedure for hypoplastic left heart syndrome in 2000; by 2005, the service was achieving some of the best outcomes with the procedure in the country. In 2008, he performed the first pediatric Berlin Heart surgery in Georgia.


View Dr. Kanter's publications in PubMed.


  • Emory University Hospital

  • Children's Healthcare of Atlanta at Egleston


  • MD, Albany Medical College, Albany, NY, Class of 1976

  • Internship in Internal Medicine, Emory University School of Medicine, 1976-1977

  • Residency in Internal Medicine, Emory, 1977-1978

  • General Surgery and Cardiothoracic Surgery Residencies, Research Fellowship in Cardiothoracic Surgery: The Johns Hopkins Hospital, 1978-1984

  • Fellowship in Pediatric Cardiac Surgery, Royal Brompton Hospital, London, England, 1984

  • Fellowship in Pediatric and Adult Cardiac Surgery and Heart and Lung Transplantation, Harefield Hospital, Middlesex, England, 1985

Current Organizational Memberships

  • American Association for Thoracic Surgery

  • American Heart Association, Fellow

  • American Medical Association

  • Congenital Heart Surgeons' Society

  • International Society for Heart and Lung Transplantation

  • Johns Hopkins Medical and Surgical Association

  • Society of Thoracic Surgeons

  • Southern Thoracic Surgical Association

  • World Society for Pediatric and Congenital Heart Surgery

Honors and Awards

  • Atlanta's Top Doctors, Atlanta Magazine, 2009-2021

  • Sir James Carreras Award, Variety International, 2017

  • Finalist, Physician Category, Annual Healthcare Heroes Awards, Atlanta Business Chronicle, 2004, 2009

  • President's Award for Best Scientific Paper, Annual Meeting, Southern Thoracic Surgical Association, 1994

Clinical Interests

  • Pediatric cardiac surgery with emphasis on the Norwood procedure and the Ross procedure
  • Adult and pediatric heart and lung transplantation

  • Cardiopulmonary transplantation

  • Tracheal surgery

Research Interests

  • Cardiac assistance and replacement

  • The surgical management of congenital heart disease with an emphasis on early correction in infancy

  • Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) for the management of postoperative cardiac failure in infants

  • Mechanical circulatory assistance