Nelson, Russell Marion

Alternative names
Birth 1924-09-09

Biographical notes:

Russell Marion Nelson (b.1924) received his B.A. and M.D. degrees from the University of Utah (1945,1947). He married Dantzel White in 1945. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota(1954). Shortly after going to medical school he began working with the tem of doctors that created the first heart-lung machine. In 1955 he was the first doctor in Utah to successfully perform open-heart surgery using a heart-lung machine. Nelson continued to perform important surgeries, and do cutting edge research, which is reflected in his publications.

His professional work included the positions of research professor of surgery and director of the Thoracic Surgery Residency at the University of Utah and chairman of the Division of Thoracic Surgery at LDS Hospital in Salt Lake City. Dr. Nelson lectured and visited professionally throughout the United States and in many other nations. A host of awards and honors have come to him, including the Distinguished Alumni Award, University of Utah; the Heart of Gold Award from the American Heart Association; a citation for International Service from the American Heart Association; and the Golden Plate Award, presented by the American Academy of Achievement.

Dr. Nelson has served as president of the Society for Vascular Surgery, a director of the American Board of Thoracic Surgery, chairman of the Council on Cardiovascular Surgery for the American Heart Association, and president of the Utah State Medical Association.

Along with his professional career, he held many positions within the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, including being called to be an Apostle in 1984. He and his wife have 10 children. In 2005, his wife Dantzel passed away unexpectedly. In 2006 he married Wendy L. Watson.

From the guide to the Russell Marion Nelson papers, 1942-2003, (J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah)


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  • Surgeons--Utah
  • Education
  • Medicine and Health
  • Colleges and Universities
  • Science, Technology, and Health
  • Thoracic surgeons--Utah


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