When doctors in Fredric G. Levin’s hometown of Pensacola, Florida, diagnosed him with stage 4 lung cancer in 2015, they said he had eight or nine months to live. But Levin, who has bucked convention at every turn in his life, had other plans. He sought the help of one of the country’s top surgeons—Raphael Bueno, MD, chief of the Division of Thoracic Surgery and co-director of the Lung Center at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
After Bueno successfully removed Levin’s tumor using minimally invasive surgery, Levin was eager to show his thanks. To start, he gave his medical hero a personalized Blue Angels Navy flight jacket. Then, he made a generous gift to the hospital, pledging $2 million to establish the Fredric G. Levin Distinguished Chair in Thoracic Surgery and Lung Cancer Research. At a special event this past August, three generations of Levin’s family joined with the hospital community to celebrate his commitment and honor Bueno as the chair’s inaugural incumbent.
“Fred Levin is a true philanthropist,” Bueno told the audience. “This chair will advance treatment for lung cancer and chest diseases at the hospital in perpetuity.”
Levin—who prides himself on making a lasting impact through his philanthropy and his career—is best known for rewriting part of a Medicaid law to allow the state of Florida to sue the tobacco industry. After being upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court, Levin’s law led to a $13 billion settlement for smoking-related illnesses. Levin’s widely known accomplishments as a trailblazer and advocate have spurred multiple articles, as well as a biography of his life by Josh Young, author of five New York Times bestsellers.
“My father once told me, if you have taken care of your family’s needs, you should give to others during your lifetime. Then you can enjoy seeing the difference made by your philanthropy.” —Fredic Levin
In The Lancet medical journal, Kate Spencer wrote: “Fred Levin has enhanced the lives of many who needed help, and [has] lived a life that only could be emulated in a Hollywood movie.”
Reflecting on his philosophy of giving, Levin says, “My father once told me, if you have taken care of your family’s needs, you should give to others during your lifetime. Then you can enjoy seeing the difference made by your philanthropy.”