The Extraordinary Life and Character of Dr. Ellsworth Wareham

Respectful Living
6 min readMay 4, 2021

Imagine being 95 years old while still being able to mow the lawn and walk up and down flights of stairs and working as a heart surgeon. Meet Dr. Ellsworth Wareham, the centenarian cardiothoracic surgeon and apple farmer from Loma Linda, California.

Photo: Dr. Ellsworth Wareham, courtesy Loma Linda University https://news.llu.edu/patient-care/memoriam-ellsworth-wareham-104-was-blue-zone-pioneer-and-cardiothoracic-surgeon

Many people have heard of Dr. Ellsworth Wareham because he has been interviewed by National Geographic, The Dr. Oz Show, CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta, and has appeared in documentaries about longevity because he was over 100 years old, worked as a prominent cardiothoracic surgeon until the age of 95, and was a vegan for over 50 years. He passed away in 2018 at the age of 104. His list of accomplishments includes being one of the first surgeons to perform open heart surgery in California, mentoring the heart surgeon who conducted the first baboon to human heart transplant, was the Chief of Cardiothoracic Surgery at Loma Linda University in California, and brought teams of heart surgeons to Vietnam, Pakistan, and other areas of the world. His many accomplishments have been documented in the Loma Linda University archives. Even with his long list of accolades and his recognition, very little has been documented about his honorable character and that is what made him an astounding individual.

Dr. Hans Diehl, the founder and director of the Lifestyle Medicine Institute and Clinical Professor at the School of Medicine at Loma Linda University, was an esteemed colleague and neighbor of Dr. Wareham. Dr. Diehl states that Dr. Wareham had an astonishing amount of humility despite his tremendous skills. He tells a story about interviewing Dr. Wareham at the American College of Lifestyle Medicine annual conference in 2015. He asked Dr. Wareham about the stress levels associated with heart surgery.

Dr. Wareham responded, “There is no stress if you know what you are doing.”

Dr. Diehl stated, “Well you must be highly skilled!”

Dr. Wareham downplayed his skill level and laughingly replied, “I could train a monkey to do the surgeries!”

Photo: Dr. Ellsworth Wareham being interviewed by Dr. Hans Diehl at the Lifestyle Medicine Conference in 2015. Photo Credit: American College of Lifestyle Medicine.

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