Cardiothoracic Surgeon Dr. Lewis W. Britton III to Retire

From left, Dr. Sanjay Samy and Dr. Louis Britton

After 43 years as a surgeon, leader and mentor, Dr. Lewis W. Britton III will put down the scalpel later this month for a well-deserved retirement.

“I hope to spend as much time as I can with a golf club or a fly rod in my hand,” he laughs.

Dr. Britton came to Albany Med in 1978 after graduating from Georgetown University to complete his residencies in general surgery and cardiothoracic surgery. He left for a short time for his fellowship in pediatric cardiac surgery at Boston Children's Hospital before returning to join the faculty in 1986. Most recently, he was the Sheridan-Alley Chair of Cardiothoracic Surgery, program director of the cardiothoracic surgery residency program, and earlier this year was interim chair of the Department of Surgery.

“Dr. Britton is a valuable member of our department, and he will be sorely missed. He has personally been an amazing colleague, trusted advisor, and friend when I joined Albany Med earlier this year,” said KMarie King, MD, MS, MBA, chair of the Department of Surgery and chief of Surgery. “He has led our Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery to new heights, and we have greatly benefited from his leadership.”

Dr. Britton has helped shape cardiothoracic surgery at Albany Med and throughout the region. During his career, he has observed numerous advancements such as minimally invasive heart procedures and techniques that are saving the lives of patients who otherwise couldn’t undergo open heart surgery; the growth of our extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) program proved critical throughout the pandemic as it served as a heart-lung bypass machine for patients.

He also has trained hundreds of cardiac surgeons who practice throughout the region and beyond.

“I’ve always told our residents that Albany Med occupies a unique position in that although we’re not in one of the biggest cities, we still have the advantage of seeing the entire spectrum of heart conditions,” Dr. Britton says. “I don’t think Albany or Albany Med have ever quite realized how good they are.”

When his own father needed heart care, Dr. Britton arranged for him to be transported to Albany Med from Texas. “I wanted him to have the best possible care and I really do feel that way about the care we deliver here.”

His fondest memories of Albany Med revolve around family—including his own son’s birth at Albany Med—and the patients who were like family; like one grateful patient, who so moved by the compassionate care he received, made a gift to create an endowed chair to honor Dr. Britton’s beloved first wife, Catharine, who died from cancer in 2003; or when a long-time employee finally worked up the courage to stop him to thank him for saving her daughter’s life nearly 20 years before, and he had the rare opportunity to reunite with his former patient.

Reflecting on his career, Dr. Britton says he accomplished what he set out to do.

“I wanted to be the surgeon the people I worked with sent their own family members to,” he says. “I’ve been able to do that, and that has meant a great deal.”

Sanjay Samy, MD, who joined Albany Med in 2016 and is a professor of surgery, will succeed Dr. Britton as chief of the Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery.

Dr. Samy is a fellowship-trained cardiothoracic surgeon who is board-certified in cardiothoracic surgery. He specializes in adult cardiac surgery, including coronary artery bypass grafting for coronary heart disease; minimally invasive aortic, mitral and tricuspid valve repair and replacement; aortic repair for aneurysms and dissections; and surgery for atrial fibrillation. With additional training in interventional cardiology, Dr. Samy utilizes both surgical and catheter-based therapies to treat heart disease.

He did his fellowship in Cardiothoracic Surgery at Boston University Medical Center and his fellowship in Interventional Cardiology at Robert Packer Hospital in Sayre, Penn. He performed his residency and internship in general surgery at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.