University of Utah Honors President Nelson and Dantzel Nelson with Endowed Chair in Surgery

Contributed By Marianne Holman Prescott, Church News staff writer

  • 19 June 2018

Dr. Craig H. Selzman, a heart surgery professor in the University of Utah’s School of Medicine, is sitting with President Russell M. Nelson. Dr. Selzman is the recipient of the Dr. Russell M. Nelson and Dantzel W. Nelson Presidential Endowed Chair in Cardiothoracic Surgery. The announcement of the endowment was made June 15, 2018.

President Russell M. Nelson and his late wife, Sister Dantzel W. Nelson, have been honored by the University of Utah for years of work and support in the field of cardiothoracic surgery.

During a dinner held on Temple Square on June 15, University of Utah President Ruth V. Watkins announced the establishment of the Dr. Russell M. Nelson and Dantzel W. Nelson Presidential Endowed Chair in Cardiothoracic Surgery.

President Nelson, who is a University of Utah alum and former faculty member of the university, worked as a heart surgeon until 1984, when, at the height of his career, he retired to accept full-time Church service.

University of Utah president Ruth V. Watkins and the School of Medicine announced the Dr. Russell M. Nelson and Dantzel W. Nelson Presidential Endowed Chair in Cardiothoracic Surgery at a dinner on Temple Square June 15, 2018.

President Russell M. Nelson gave remarks following the University of Utah announcement of establishing the Dr. Russell M. Nelson and Dantzel W. Nelson Presidential Endowed Chair in Cardiothoracic Surgery. A dinner was held on Temple Square June 15, 2018, where the announcement was made.

Particularly notable during President Nelson’s career was his role in developing the heart-lung bypass machine that was used in the first open-heart surgery in the state of Utah. In 1956, President Nelson performed the first successful pediatric cardiac operation, and he was at the forefront of surgeons in his field. In his career he completed more than 7,000 surgeries. He is the author of many publications and chapters in medical textbooks and would give lectures around the world.

He has said of his wife Dantzel, who died in 2005, that her influence played an important role in his career, as she helped raise their 10 children and gave him invaluable support and encouragement.

Calling the evening “nostalgic,” President Nelson described how he and Dantzel created the heart-lung machine and what it was like to perform the first open-heart surgery in Utah. He also shared about his experience leading the thoracic surgery training program at the University of Utah for 17 years.

President Russell M. Nelson greets guests during a dinner, June 15, 2018, on Temple Square. He was honored by the University of Utah School of Medicine as Dr. Nelson, along with his first wife, Dantzel, for their contributions in heart surgery and research.

President Russell M. Nelson and his late wife, Sister Dantzel W. Nelson.