Black History Month: Celebrating Dr. LD Britt, local surgeon with global recognition

Black History Month

NORFOLK, Va (WAVY) — Some people have a wall to display their awards and accolades. Dr. L.D Britt, a professor and chairman of surgery at Eastern Virginia Medical School, needs a whole room.

“I don’t like to come in here… It’s nice, but I want to focus on what I’m doing,” Britt said as he showed 10 On Your Side around the space at Eastern Virginia Medical School.

His awards, honors and body of work are massive. To name a few, he is past president of the American College of Surgeons and has been honored for medicine by President George H.W. Bush, the United Kingdom and France. He is a man of the world, but will never forget where he came from: the segregated public school system in Suffolk.

“Something things you just get dealt. I’m not going to complain about racism and all that, I’m just going to be excellent,” he told WAVY.

His mother, a teacher, ingrained in him a love of education. He graduated from the University of Virginia and the prestigious Harvard Medical school. He trained in the country’s best hospitals.

He could have gone anywhere, but he decided to come home.

“It was the exact day of my birthday. I was 35 years old. I was on the road coming back here, and I’ve only had one job, here at EVMS,” he said.

“He has put EVMS on the map — globally,” former student Dr. Mayur Narayan said.

Narayan, a surgeon with Weill Cornell Medicine in New York, showed us two pictures he keeps above his desk: one of Britt with a signed message and another of the two of them operating together.

“When I think of him, I think of excellence. Excellence in what he does, in how he does it. Excellence in mentoring. Excellence in education,” he said.

Narayan is among dozens of surgeons, past students, who formed the L.D. Britt Society. Many of them are now educators as well, trying to emulate their mentor.

Britt, however, remains humble.

“It’s embarrassing. They talk about all of the things they learned from me, all the tricks and all of that, and so I get a lot of kudos and all that. But I’m just happy they’re doing well,” Britt said.

Mentoring and public service are what fuels Britt, who at age 69 has no plans to slow down.

“Our greatest challenge is health care disparities and that’s what I’m going to be into until my final days,” he said.

He is leading a $2.5-million national study to address healthcare disparities. Each year, a scholarship in his honor goes to a minority student who, like him, is seeking to excel in both medicine and community service.

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