1. He knew he wanted to be a physician at the age of 15.
He commented on that desire in these words, “I’ve always wanted to know what “truth” is. That’s why I gravitated toward the exact sciences, math chemistry, and physics, for example. Nothing is as rewarding for me as tackling a problem and finding out what the truth is. Next to motherhood, the privilege of being a physician is as satisfying a calling as there could be. How can you love God and serve Him and your fellow man more sincerely than you can as a selfless physician.”
2. He met his first wife in a situation he wanted nothing to do with.
As an eighteen-year-old student at the University of Utah, he was pressured into doing a musical production, “Hayfoot, Strawfoot”. He said, “I resisted doing it. I was more concerned about passing biology than about being in some play.” When he walked into the first rehearsal he heard a young woman, named Dantzel White, singing on stage. He had asked the director who was singing, the director said, “that’s who you will be performing with.” President Nelson said, “I thought she was the most beautiful girl I had ever seen and sensed that she was the one I would marry.” That feeling turned into a reality when he married Dantzel in the Salt Lake Temple on March 31, 1945.
3. He was part of a team that developed a ground-breaking surgical device.
President Nelson as part of a research team received a grant to develop a machine that could artificially perform the functions of the heart and lungs of a patient while they were being operated on. It took almost three years to get ready, once it was finished though in 1951, it was used for the first time in an open-heart operation.
4. He was the first person to perform open-heart surgery in Utah.
Of this experience, he said, “When I was in medical school, I was taught that you should never touch the beating heart because if you did, it would stop. And then I read in the Doctrine and Covenants that “unto every kingdom is given a law, and unto every law, there are certain bounds also and conditions.” That passage told me that the blessing of a heartbeat is predicated upon obedience to the law. So I knew that there were laws pertaining to the beat of a heart. Therefore, if we understood those laws, we might be able to approach the heart with a little more precision.”
5. He performed heart surgery on President Spencer W. Kimball.
Elder Kimball’s heart surgery was very risky because he was seventy-five years old, however, President Lee counseled him to have the surgery. President Nelson performed open-heart surgery, including an aortic valve replacement, after receiving a blessing in 1972. At the time of the surgery, President Kimball was a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. President Nelson reflected on the surgery and said, “I had a sure witness as I was standing there that the man I had just operated on would become the President of the Church. At the time, such an impression was surprising: Joseph Fielding Smith was President of the Church, and Harold B. Lee was younger and healthier than Elder Kimball. So that feeling was quite unexpected, but it was real.” As we know Elder Kimball became President of the Church a year later.
6. He turned down an extraordinary opportunity due to the counsel of David O. McKay.
Dr. Nelson was offered the position of professor of surgery and chairman of the Division of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery at a major university in Chicago. The offer included a larger salary and full tuition for all of his children. He sought the counsel of David O. McKay before accepting the offer. After hearing the details of the offer, President McKay simply said, “I don’t think you should go to Chicago.” Without any need for a further explanation, Dr. Nelson declined the offer.
7. President Nelson has a love for music.
President Nelson invested in a piano early in his marriage despite their financial situation because he believed music was an important part of life. His wife Wendy said in an interview that they would go to symphonies together, and the following day President Nelson would play the pieces of music they had heard by ear.
8. He knows more about technology than you think.
President Nelson said that he loves learning about technology and how to better use it. He said it’s an important part of life, especially the lives of younger generations. In a recent interview, he said that if we want to connect with the youth we have to understand their world which is filled with technology. His children attested to this. They said most grandparents are taught how to use technology by their children and grandchildren. In the Nelson family, however, President Nelson is the one that teaches everyone else.