Bruce Leavitt, M.D. ’77

Bernard Lown ’42 Humanitarian Award

Bruce Leavitt

Dr. Bruce Leavitt gives from the heart, and through his generous contributions of medical care has given improved health to others. A skilled surgeon, he has performed countless procedures on patients around the globe during the past two decades. Because of the lack of medical care in many economically underdeveloped nations, his international patients would otherwise have much-compromised conditions or a shorter life.

Raised in Waterville, Maine, Leavitt enrolled at UMaine in 1973 with thoughts of eventually becoming a dentist. He soon changed his mind, deciding he wanted to become a medical doctor. As a member of the campus community he was involved as a deejay with WMEB-FM, the student-run radio station, and in Phi Eta Kappa fraternity.

Today Leavitt teaches at the University of Vermont’s Larner College of Medicine and is a cardiothoracic surgeon at the University of Vermont Medical Center. Besides his work in Vermont, however, his medical missions abroad have set him apart from many in his field.

The subject of a profile in the fall 2018 MAINE Alumni Magazine, Leavitt has worked with Doctors Without Borders, Team Heart, and other organizations to provide medical care to patients who otherwise would not have access to essential healthcare. He has patched up people who were injured during the civil war in Sri Lanka, working out of a tent in the jungle. In China he helped teach doctors in a rural hospital how to perform heart surgery. In Nigeria, and most recently during repeated trips to Rwanda he has operated on patients with life-threatening heart conditions.

Leavitt is quick to say that he gets more out of the experience than his patients. “To operate on an 11-year-old, to put a new heart valve in an 11-year-old and know that you gave him a whole life, I get more out of it than I give them,” he explains.



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