Vegan surgeon Ellsworth E. Wareham, MD—a pioneer of open heart surgery—passed away on Saturday at the age of 104. Wareham was born in 1914 in Texas and lived through the Great Depression before pursuing an education in medicine at Loma Linda University in 1942. The surgeon spent much of his life in Loma Linda, CA in a Seventh Day Adventist religious community that is one of the world’s five “blue zones”—areas where the mostly vegetarian population tends to live longer than others. Up until his death, Wareham continued to drive and garden, and retired from his surgical practice at the age of 96. “I’ve never cared for animal products,” Wareham told CCTV America in 2015, crediting his vegan lifestyle for the longevity of his health and career. “I’m basically no different than I was 50 years ago.” Wareham is survived by his wife of 68 years Barbara, four children, eight grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren—who will gather for a memorial in remembrance of the revered vegan surgeon on December 30 at the Loma Linda University Church.

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