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The Scripture That Led to President Nelson's Breakthrough Discovery in Heart Surgery

The following was written by President Dallin H. Oaks as a special article for the May 2018 Ensign. Be sure to check out the full article to learn about President Oaks's touching first memory of President Nelson and more about this inspiring prophet of God.

When Russell M. Nelson was in medical school, he was taught that no doctor should ever touch a human heart, because once a heart was touched, it would stop beating. Only a few years later, however, Dr. Nelson and his fellow researchers reported the first successful use of an artificial heart-lung machine on a dog. The heart-lung machine took over the patient’s circulation, permitting surgery on the nonbeating heart. This breakthrough by Dr. Nelson and his colleagues was soon extended to humans and has now led to more than 1.5 million open-heart operations done annually worldwide.

The inspiration that led to this discovery came to Dr. Nelson while he was pondering the following verses in the Doctrine and Covenants:

“All kingdoms have a law given. …
“And unto every kingdom is given a law; and unto every law there are certain bounds also and conditions” (D&C 88:36, 38).

Dr. Nelson reasoned that if he worked, studied, and asked the right questions, he and his team could learn what laws govern the beating heart. “It was through the understanding of the scriptures and ‘likening’ them to this area of interest,” he said, “that the great field of heart surgery as we know it today was facilitated for me.”

Throughout his life, this ability to apply gospel principles has blessed President Nelson, his family, the Church, and the world. It was key to his preparation for his call as an Apostle and now as President of the Church.

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