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Young Latter-day Saint Man Finds His Life's Calling in Samoa

‘During my mission, I felt nothing but pure love’

Taylor Avei grew up in Farmington, Utah, USA with a rich Samoan family heritage.

His parents observed many of the island traditions especially those associated with strengthening family.

When he received his call to serve as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, it was to his father’s native Samoa.

Taylor would spend the next two years serving the people of the island nation and teaching the principles of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.

"During my mission," he says, "I felt nothing but pure love, and I made a promise that some how I would come back and serve the Samoan people again in order to show them the same love that was given to me on my mission.”

His opportunity would come as he participated in the Rheumatic Relief study abroad program sponsored by Brigham Young University (BYU) in Provo, Utah USA.

                                                                                                                                     
                                          

Every spring for two weeks, young men and women travel to Samoa to help children with rheumatic heart disease.

“We screen hundreds of children annually, which in many cases can help them avoid lengthy medical treatment plans, complicated surgeries and possibly death,” said Avei.

Taylor took part in a screening of a little girl from American Samoa.

“She was flown from Western Samoa when her parents found out that cardiologists from the U.S. were assessing and diagnosing children.”

“I had the privilege to translate for our cardiologist as he gave a very heavy diagnosis to a five-year old girl who had severe mitral stenosis which is a narrowing/hardening of a heart valve, vital in pumping blood to the body,” recalls Taylor.

“I was able to listen to her murmur and see the back flow and damage to her heart through echocardiographic screening. It was during the translating back and forth between cardiologist and the very concerned mother that I felt this could be my life’s career.”

The little girl was blessed to receive the life-saving assessment and received a valve replacement in the United States.

   
                                   

Taylor is also involved in a research lab at BYU. In his lab work he has gained a better understanding how genetics plays a role in Alzheimer’s and Rheumatic Heart Disease among Pacific islanders.

In collaboration with a University of Oxford study, Taylor learned that the people of the Pacific actually have a genetic predisposition to certain diseases.

Through networking Taylor met Dr. Vuyi Nkomo, a cardiologist from the Mayo Clinic in the United States.

“Because of the opportunity to shadow him for a week, I understood more clearly that I wanted to pursue a career in the medical field," says Avei.

“My career plans are to attend medical school and to become a physician. I’m also leaning towards a dualist M.D. and PH.D program which would combine my love of research and clinical work.”

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Mormons believe that we should seek out opportunities to serve and assist others.

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