Donald B. Doty

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Donald B. Doty was a thoracic and cardiovascular surgeon and nine-year chairman of Health Services for the Missionary Department of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

He was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, on September 9, 1937, where he lived until shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, when his family relocated to Hollywood, California. After he graduated from North Hollywood High School, he completed his undergraduate studies at UCLA, and then earned his MD degree from Stanford Medical School. He completed his general surgery residency at the University of Southern California County General Hospital. His medical training was interrupted during the Vietnam War. He served as a major in the U.S. Army Medical Corps. He was initially stationed for a short time at Walter Reed Army Institute of Research in Silver Spring, Maryland, and was subsequently called up to serve a 6-month tour of duty in Vietnam from January to July 1968. During his tour of duty in Vietnam, Don developed innovative techniques in vascular surgery, resulting in nearly 20 publications and instruments for trauma surgery.  He saved the lives of many American soldiers on the operating tables of Army field hospitals in combat zones, and for his efforts, he was awarded the Bronze Star Medal for Meritorious Achievement in Ground Operations Against Hostile Forces.

Following his honorable discharge from the military, Don completed his residency in cardiothoracic surgery at the University of Alabama.

In 1971, Don joined the cardiothoracic surgery department at the University of Iowa Hospital. Over the next 11 years, he became a world-renowned expert in pediatric heart surgery, and researched, published, and taught residents.

From 1983 until his retirement at the end of 2004, Don practiced cardiac surgery at LDS Hospital in Salt Lake City, joining the practice of Dr. Russell M. Nelson.

“President Nelson often stood just behind Doty's shoulder while Doty performed heart surgeries on several top LDS leaders, including former church President Howard W. Hunter, as well as two other apostles, Elder David B. Haight and Elder Robert D. Hales. President Nelson hovered so close that his head would almost graze Doty's ear, Doty recalled [in 2018], saying the close proximity was reassuring, and not nerve-wracking.”[1]

Doty published numerous scholarly articles and five books. He also made multiple trips to China, sponsored by the American Heart Association, to train Chinese physicians in the techniques of heart surgery. He served for a time as president of the Western Thoracic Surgical Association.

“To improve the knowledge of residents in thoracic surgical training in the University of Utah Affiliated Hospitals, he developed a two-year series of lectures to assist their studies for the examinations by the American Board of Thoracic Surgery. When this was deemed successful, he expanded the lectures into the national and international CORE Curriculum Review course which has helped thousands of surgeons pass their certifying exams.”[2]

Upon his retirement, he was called to serve as the chairman of the Health Services for the Missionary Department of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, where he and his wife, Cheryl, served until 2013. They were awarded Intermountain Healthcare’s Legacy of Life award. In 2015, he was awarded a Doctor of Science and Christian Service degree, Honoris Causa, from Brigham Young University.

He served in the Church in many callings and assignments, including Regional Representative and Area Authority Seventy.

He died on June 26, 2019. He and his wife, Cheryl, are the parents of two sons.

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