Kaalan E. Johnson, MD

Otolaryngology, Craniofacial Center

On staff since August 2013

Children's Title: Director of the Aerodigestive Program

Academic Title: Assistant Professor

"I moved from studying engineering to medicine when I realized how unique and truly powerful the interaction is between a patient and a doctor. What a wonderful opportunity we have everyday to make a positive impact on people's lives in such a tangible way. My interest in helping children with complex airway, breathing, and swallowing conditions is one avenue to have that positive impact on some of our most important functions of interactive life. Working in medical simulation has allowed me to find ways to teach others to provide this care in a more effective way. I feel so lucky to be at a place like Seattle Children's where I can work in all those areas in one amazing place."

  • Dr. Johnson is the Surgical Director of the Aerodigestive Program and practices at Seattle Children's Main Campus and Bellevue Clinic and Surgery Center. He is an Assistant Professor of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery at the University of Washington School of Medicine. He is a native of the northwest, but did his medical school in southern California and residency in Virginia before completing a fellowship in pediatric otolaryngology at Cincinnati Children's Hospital and working there after his fellowship.

    He began working at Seattle Children's Hospital in 2013 and started seeing patients for the Aerodigestive Center later that year. The work he began in Cincinnati on medical simulation has been able to continue through the Institute for Simulation and Interprofessional Studies at the University of Washington.

    He lives with his wife and three children, and enjoys wakeboarding, snowboarding, playing sports with his kids, visiting family north of Seattle, and music.

    • Maureen Seattle, WA 02.21.18

      This is a very belated recommendation. Simply put, I believe Dr. Johnson saved my daughter's life. In 2014, my then 14-year old daughter had an undiagnosed trachea-esophageal fistula. She had suffered throughout her childhood with repeated respiratory infections and pneumonias. Her symptoms had become worse and most other doctors took a sort of shoulder-shrugging "who knows why" approach. Not Dr. Johnson. He listened to me, listened to my daughter, went in with a scope, and found that hidden fistula. Four surgeries later, my daughter was good as new. She has had virtually no respiratory issues since -- and is now in her first year of college on the east coast.

    • Aimee Marysville, WA 05.12.16

      After long months with our 24wkr micro preemie and 2 other nicus, a code and lots of scary close calls we came to Childrens for a controlled extubation and Dr Johnson went to bat for us to wait before traching our son, thus allowing him to stay another month in Nicu to grow and be truly sure we were doing right thing by placing trache. That's no cheap undertaking and even though we had to be trached in the end, he thrived so much afterwards that we knew it was right choice. But soooo appreciated Dr Johnson listening and understanding my need as a nurse and mother to be sure.... Good man, great surgeon and looking forward to getting that trache out next summer....

    • Katrina Olympia, Washington 04.27.16

      I would most definitely recommend Dr. Johnson. He is an amazing doctor, who with another surgeon, changed my life. I had broken my nose when i was younger and at 18 finally got it fixed. I can breathe 100% better not counting the fact that my nose is still in the healing process. I can even breathe while I have a stuffy nose and that did't happen for about 13 years. I can also smell food 110%!! Dr. Johnson was a gift from God. Before surgery our family prayed for a good doctor and our prayers were answered. Having surgery terrified me but as soon as you meet Dr. Johnson, it's as if your entire nervous system relaxes. HIs kind face and gentle movements also make you confident in his work. God bless you sir and help you continue your work.

    • Nicole Spanaway Washington 01.26.16

      Words will never be enough to explain how grateful our family is for Dr. Johnson. He has been working with two of her children for the past two years or so and has made our lives much easier when dealing with chronically ill children. He has gone above and beyond for our family so many times, fitting us in last minute for appointments, worked around our schedule, answered questions promptly via email on his days off and directed us in more areas to find answer for our children. Our kids love going to see him, and he makes the experience fun for the whole family. He is without a doubt, the best ent we have ever worked with. Thank you for all you have done and will do for our family, we are forever grateful.

    • Christine Cincinnati, OH 05.25.14

      My son saw Dr. Johnson while he was in Cincinnati. Dr. Johnson put one set of tubes in my son's ears and they lasted longer than his sisters' who both had tubes placed at least a year before him. I ended up switching both of my daughters to Dr. Johnson as their primary ENT and was so sad to see him leave. We have yet to find a doctor to replace him...

    • Desiree Edmonds, wa 04.04.14

      My son has been a patient of Dr Johnson for a few months. After a year of unknown reason for my sons aspiration, and countless visits to specialty doctors, Dr Johnson immediately knew the reason for my sons condition. He performed a surgical procedure yesterday at Seattle Children's to resolve my little guys problems. Dr Johnson has such great bedside manner, making us feel very confident in his professional expertise.He explains everything in a way that we can understand it. He is very patient and observant. He listens to our concerns and always answers our questions to the best of his abilities. Hands down..THE best! My son is 14months old.

    • Morgan Havelock,nc 10.01.13

      We saw dr Johnson for my son and saw him from 3 months old till 2 years. We saw him at least every six months and sometimes more. He performed procedures on our son and we couldn't have been handed a more perfect person for us and our son. We moved from ohio to nc and we were sad to tell him and not be able to be near him for future care of our son. At the same time we found out he was leaving Cincinnati children's. Seattle is soooo lucky to have such a gem. His bedside manner was the best I've seen anywhere and his knowledge and skill surpass that!

    • Russel Short Hills New Jersey 09.03.13

      My Son was a patient of Dr. Johnson at Cincinatti Childrens Hospital for 18 months. he operated on Nathaniel 8-9 times. He is amazing. He attention to detail, his surgical competence and his calm demeanor are all equally amazing. Seattle Children's is lucky to have him.

  • Award Name Award Description Awarded By Award Date
    Unsung Heroes Award Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center 2010
    Eunice Baxter Award Awarded to the Outstanding Chief Surgical Resident of the Year Sentara Norfolk General Hospital 2009
    1st Place, Resident Research Podium Presentations Virginia Society of Otolaryngology Annual Meeting 2009
    1st Place, Basic Science Resident Research Award Awarded for the best basic science research project at the annual meeting for Otolaryngology. American Academy of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery 2007
    Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society Membership Alpha Omega Alpha 2004
  • Other Publications

    • Johnson K, Geis G, Oehler J, Meinzen-Derr J, Bauer J, Myer C, Kerrey B
      Simulation to implement a novel system of care for pediatric critical airway obstruction.
      23069820 Archives of otolaryngology--head & neck surgery, 2012 Oct. : 138(10)907-11
    • Ishman SL, Benke JR, Johnson KE, Zur KB, Jacobs IN, Thorne MC, Brown DJ, Lin SY, Bhatti N, Deutsch ES
      Blinded Evaluation of Interrater Reliability of an Operative Competency Assessment Tool for Direct Laryngoscopy and Rigid Bronchoscopy.
      22986639 Archives of otolaryngology--head & neck surgery, 2012 Sept. 17 : 1-7
    • Johnson K, Brehm SB, Weinrich B, Meinzen-Derr J, de Alarcon A
      Comparison of the Pediatric Voice Handicap Index with perceptual voice analysis in pediatric patients with vocal fold lesions.
      22183908 Archives of otolaryngology--head & neck surgery, 2011 Dec. : 137(12)1258-62
    • Houlton JJ, de Alarcon A, Johnson K, Meinzen-Derr J, Brehm SB, Weinrich B, Elluru RG
      Voice outcomes following adult cricotracheal resection.
      22024843 The Laryngoscope, 2011 Sept. : 121(9)1910-4
    • Hopkins BS, Johnson KE, Ksiazek JM, Sun G, Greinwald JH, Rutter M
      H1N1 influenza A presenting as bacterial tracheitis.
      20304287 Otolaryngology--head and neck surgery : official journal of American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, 2010 April : 142(4)612-4
    • Johnson K, Derkay C
      Palliative aspects of recurrent respiratory papillomatosis.
      19134490 Otolaryngologic clinics of North America, 2009 Feb. : 42(1)57-70, viii
    • Johnson K, Vaughan A, Derkay C, Welch JC, Werner A, Kuhn MA, Singletary S, Bondy P
      Microdebrider vs electrocautery: a comparison of tonsillar wound healing histopathology in a canine model.
      18359359 Otolaryngology--head and neck surgery : official journal of American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, 2008 April : 138(4)486-91
    • Johnson K, Pineda M, Darrow D, Proud V, Derkay C
      Neonatal upper airway obstruction in osteogenesis imperfecta: series of three cases and review of the literature.
      18254368 The Annals of otology, rhinology, and laryngology, 2008 Jan. : 117(1)27-31
    • Florea A, Zwart JE, Lee CW, Depew A, Park SK, Inman J, Wareham R, Johnson K, John E, Wall GM, Jung T
      Effect of topical dexamethasone versus rimexolone on middle ear inflammation in experimental otitis media with effusion.
      16864486 Acta oto-laryngologica, 2006 Sept. : 126(9)910-5


Board Certification(s)


Medical/Professional School

Loma Linda University School of Medicine, Loma Linda


Otolaryngology, Eastern Virginia Medical School, Norfolk


Pediatric Otolaryngology, Cincinnati Children's Hospital medical Center, Cincinnati

Clinical Interests

Aerodigestive conditions including complex airway, breathing, and swallowing issues, aspiration, laryngeal clefts, airway reconstruction, subglottic stenosis, obstructive sleep apnea, and tracheotomy management. Additional interests include sinusitis and skull base surgery, acute and chronic ear disease, and otolaryngologic manifestations of craniofacial disorders.