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World-renowned doctor and University of Iowa professor turns 100

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RoseMary Mason, left, Edward Mason, center, and Richard Mason, right, celebrate Edward's 100th birthday.
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Mason as a professor at the University of Iowa.

IOWA CITY, Iowa (KWWL) - Edward E. Mason was born in a taxi cab in Boise, Idaho on October 16, 1920. His family moved to Iowa City when he was a young boy and he graduated from City High School in 1939.

He studied medicine at the University of Iowa and served in the Navy in WWII. Dr. Mason returned to the U of I in 1953 as a surgery professor and would discover the surgery to treat morbid obesity in 1965.

"At first, the insurance companies didn't want to pay for the surgery because they didn't consider obesity a disease," RoseMary Mason said, Edward's daughter and a former family medicine doctor in Dennison, Iowa.

"But then it was found that obesity was one of the number one diseases in our country," RoseMary said. Mason was the first to use gastric bypass surgery to treat obesity and also invented vertical banded gastroplasty surgery (commonly referred to as "stomach stapling").

He has also found a new way to treat people with type two diabetes; by dumping high-sugar food directly into the small intestine and releasing GLP-1 hormones.

Edward passed the 100-year mile marker Friday. RoseMary, his son Richard and one grandchild were there to celebrate.

"He was in one of his better days. He has his good days and his bad days," RoseMary said. His daughter says the pandemic --and less contact with friends and family-- has been really hard on her dad.

"He likes to be touched and he likes to be told that he's loved," RoseMary said.

The small group celebrated a father of medicine and a father of four.

RoseMary and her three brothers recently published an autobiography their dad finished in 2017 called "A Fat Chance". She believes the secret to his long life was lots of exercise as a young man.

Travis Breese

Reporter, Iowa City

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