Livingston Wong, an iconic figure in the medical community in Hawaiʻi, who was a professor of surgery and served as vice chair, acting chair and interim chair in the Department of Surgery at the John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM), died on October 25, 2020, at the age of 90.
A Honolulu native, Wong was a graduate of Maryknoll School and earned his undergraduate education at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. He went on to earn his MD from Oregon Health Sciences School of Medicine and completed his surgery training at the prestigious Massachusetts General Hospital.
In 1965, he returned to Hawaiʻi as a clinical instructor at JABSOM. He rose through the academic ranks to become professor of surgery and served as vice chair from 1991 to 2004, acting chair from 1997 to 1998, and interim chair from 2000 to 2001.
Duty, responsibility, honesty and love for our patients while enjoying the trust gained is our goal.
Wong was the founder of Surgical Associates, Inc., and was a premier general and transplant surgeon in Hawaiʻi who was widely respected for his surgical skills, sound judgement, wisdom and humility. Wong was considered a surgeon’s surgeon, providing mentorship, advice and support to many of the surgeons in the medical community. He was a true surgeon-scientist and understood the importance of scientific investigation and inquiry. Most of all, he loved what he did.
Wong was the recipient of numerous awards including: the A.H. Robins Outstanding Physician of the Year Award in 1978; Ten Who Made a Difference in Hawaiʻi (awarded by the Honolulu Star-Bulletin) in 1990; the UH Alumni Association Distinguished Alumni Award in 1998; and the Maryknoll School Distinguished Alumni Award in 1999. He was a member of the prestigious Alpha Omega Alpha medical honor society and served as president of the Pacific Coast Surgical Association from 2003 to 2004.
An excerpt from his presidential address to the Pacific Coast Surgical Association, “Duty, Responsibility, and Honor,” in 2004 demonstrates why Wong was so beloved: “Duty, responsibility, honesty and love for our patients while enjoying the trust gained is our goal. Lonely is the life of a surgeon. Yet, we must be proud of our honorable profession of surgery. As I enter the twilight years of my practice, I feel honored to be a physician. I feel proud to be a surgeon. I have tried to foster a duty and responsibility to my patients. I have been honest with my patients and my colleagues. I ask each and every one of you to foster a duty of responsibility and honesty to all of your patients and colleagues and to maintain equanimity.”
—By Kenric M. Murayama