Award honors Elder Nelson for contributions in medicine

Elder Russell M. Nelson, whose medical career spanned nearly 40 years before being called to the Council of the Twelve nine years ago, is the recipient of the 1993 Legacy of Life Award, presented annually by the LDS Hospital-Deseret Foundation's Heart & Lung Institute.

Elder Nelson was honored at a banquet in Salt Lake City April 22.The Legacy of Life Award honors a Utah-associated citizen who has made significant contributions of the welfare of the people of Utah and the United States.

LDS Hospital's Heart & Lung Institute is directed by community and scientific advisory councils with guidance from distinguished consultants. Its mission is to improve clinical practice, promote research that leads to favorable outcomes, provide facility and research funding, and promote collaborative investigation among hospitals in the region.

Elder Nelson is the third Legacy of Life recipient. Last year, the award was presented to Dr. James O. Mason, head of the U.S. Public Health Service. In 1991, the award went to Utah medical informatics pioneer, Dr. Homer Warner.

Elder Nelson's medical career included an impressive list of "firsts," such as performing the first open heart surgery in the western United States in 1955, using extracorporeal circulation.

"Russ was the catalyst for the development of the combined LDS Hospital-University of Utah thoracic surgical residency, a program he directed for 17 years," says colleague, Dr. J.D. Mortensen. "Among his biggest contributions to medicine was his skill as a teacher and administrator."

Elder Nelson served as president of the Society for Vascular Surgery, president of the Utah State Medical Association, chairman of the Council on Cardiovascular for the American Heart Association, and director of the American Board of Thoracic Surgery. He is listed in Who's Who in the World, Who's Who in America, Who's Who in the West, and Who's Who in Religion.

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