Q&A: Ellsworth Wareham

December 02, 2009|By Zain Shauk

Ellsworth Wareham is 95 and all too familiar with heart surgery, although not as a patient.

The nonagenarian regularly assists with operations at Glendale Adventist Medical Center and is considering retirement. Just considering though, he says.

Wareham says he feels great and enjoys his more than 60-mile commute from Loma Linda whenever he participates in operations.

His longevity and good health have been the topic of discussion in a book, "The Blue Zones: Lessons for Living Longer From the People Who've Lived the Longest," and a feature film, "How to Live Forever."

Although his parents and grandparents did not live past their 80s, Wareham has been able to live on largely because of his vegetarian diet and exercise, he says.


He finished medical school in 1942, then joined the Navy to be a doctor on a destroyer in World War II. After returning, he reentered the civilian medical workforce and has been practicing ever since.

ZAIN SHAUK: I hear you're thinking about retiring this year. What took you so long?

ELLSWORTH WAREHAM: I don't know that I'll retire this year. I've given thought to it.

Q: Why not?

A: I enjoy getting out of the house and going to the hospital. I enjoy the atmosphere of the operating room. They're wonderful people that work in operating rooms, the staffs there. And it's a social occasion, you know? You get out and see these people in the various hospitals where you go, and it's just entertaining. The work doesn't amount to anything. If you've been doing cardiac surgery your whole life, that's all pretty automatic. And since, as an assistant, you don't carry the responsibility of the patient, that puts it back into the role where it's almost like knitting and crocheting, you know? The head surgeon has the responsibility of the patient, so it's a very relaxed situation.

I know people think that that's quite a feat or quite an accomplishment to do the work, say at 95. But it really doesn't amount to anything. It's not the easiest thing I do, though there's not any stress of any kind in it. I would be reluctant to do it, except the surgeon passes on one's ability. If one isn't doing top-quality work, well he shouldn't be in the operating room. A life is at stake.

Q: You still operate on patients then?

Glendale News-Press Articles Glendale News-Press Articles