Russell Marion Nelson (born September 9, 1924) is a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) and an internationally renowned cardiothoracic surgeon. Currently, he is the third most senior and the oldest living apostle among the ranks of the church.
A native of Salt Lake City, Utah, Nelson studied at LDS Business College while in his mid-teens and then worked as an assistant secretary at a bank. He attended the University of Utah, earning a B.A. in 1945 and an M.D. in 1947. He then pursued joint surgical training and PhD studies at the University of Minnesota. There, he worked on the research team responsible for developing the heart-lung machine that supported the first open-heart operation on a human being in 1951. After a two-year term of medical duty in the U.S. Army during the Korean War, being stationed in Korea, Japan, and at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., he returned for additional surgical training at Harvard Medical School's Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.
Nelson returned to Salt Lake City in 1955 and accepted a faculty position at the University of Utah School of Medicine. There he built his own heart-lung bypass machine and employed it to support the first open-heart surgery in the state of Utah. That operation was performed at the Salt Lake General Hospital (SLGH) on an adult with an atrial septal defect...
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