Faith and Reason 4: A Miracle Operation

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From the book: Of Faith and Reason: 80 Evidences Supporting the Prophet Joseph Smith

by Michael R. Ash

Most Latter-day Saints are familiar with the basic story of Joseph’s childhood leg operation, but they may not know how blessed he was to have the right doctor at the right time. The surgery performed on young Joseph was not widely known or even extensively suggested until the late 1800’s, and wasn’t standardized until after World War I.

According to the research of Dr. LeRoy Wirthlin, a Dr. Nathan Smith (no relation to Joseph) was the surgeon who performed Joseph’s operation. Dr. Smith was the only physician in the United States in 1813 who had the expertise to successfully deal with osteomyelitis, a disorder that causes long segments of the bony shaft to die and then become encased by new bone growing over the dead layer. If Joseph Smith had lived anywhere else or perhaps a few decades earlier or later, he would have lost his leg and possibly his life.

Michael R. Ash is the author of: Of Faith and Reason: 80 Evidences Supporting The Prophet Joseph Smith. He is the owner and operator of and is on the management team for FairMormon. He has been published in Sunstone, Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, the Maxwell Institute’s FARMS Review, and is the author of Shaken Faith Syndrome: Strengthening One’s Testimony in the Face of Criticism and Doubt. He and his wife live in Ogden, Utah, and have three daughters.

Julianne Dehlin Hatton  is a broadcast journalist living in Louisville, Kentucky. She has worked as a News Director at an NPR affiliate, Radio and Television Host, and Airborne Traffic Reporter. She graduated with an MSSc from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University in 2008. Julianne and her husband Thomas are the parents of four children.

Music for Faith and Reason is provided by Arthur Hatton.