As a boy, Russell Nelson had many interests, but in college he decided to study medicine. By the time he received his degree in June 1945, he was already well into his first year of medical school, and he completed the four-year course in three years. In August 1947, he was a full-fledged M.D. at age 22, having graduated with highest honors.
In the meantime he met and married Dantzel White. Russell had been persuaded to participate in a play at the university, and she was a lead soprano in the play. When he met her and heard her sing, he was smitten. He needed no further motivation to perform in the play, and they were married three years later in August 1945 in the Salt Lake Temple. They had 10 children. Sister Nelson passed away in February 2005. In April 2006, he married Wendy L. Watson. Today she often accompanies him on his Church assignments.
After his internship at the University of Minnesota, Dr. Nelson worked on a team that made medical history: After three challenging years, they developed the first machine that performed the functions of a patient’s heart and lungs during open-heart surgery.
Before returning to Salt Lake City, he enlisted to serve a two-year term of medical duty in the U.S. Army during the Korean War; he served in Korea and Japan and at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. Later he worked for a year at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, then returned to the University of Minnesota for a year and received his PhD in 1954.
Over the years, he literally touched the hearts of thousands of patients, including top Church and civic leaders. In 1972 he performed heart surgery on Elder Spencer W. Kimball. Following the surgery he received a personal witness that his patient would someday become President of the Church.
On Tuesday, January 16, 2018, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints announced that Russell Nelson would be it’s next president and prophet. He has previously served as an apostle since 1984.
We honor you, Russell Nelson.