St. Jude Medical Artificial Heart Valve

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This is a St. Jude Medical (SJM) mechanical demonstration heart valve. It is a bi-leaflet valve with four pivots. The SJM valve was the first all carbon valve in clinical use. All St. Jude valves would be made with pyrolytic carbon, a material and coating recognized for its biocompatibility and thromboresistance (avoidance of blood clots). It quickly became the 'gold standard' for subsequent valves regardless of the manufacture. A white cloth suture ring surrounds the aluminum valve. Etched into the bi-leaflet valve is the word DEMO. Also present are softened, rounded edges of the metal component to resolve prior issues with clotting and thrombus. The first surgical of a SJM artificial heart valve was carried out in October 1977.
St. Jude Medical was founded by Manuel "Manny" Villafaña in 1976, in St. Paul, Minnesota, U.S.A. This popular bi-leaflet valve was developed at the University of Minnesota in 1972 by Dr. Demetre Nicoloff (1934-2003). It differed from previous valves because it was made of pyrolytic carbon, a material that was very durable and could last many years in the body. Dr. Jack Bokros, PhD, a nuclear engineer and founder of OnX Life Technologies Inc., developed this material. Manny Villafaña is a businessman whose first company was Cardiac Pacemakers, Inc.
The label inside the jewelry box in which it is housed reads: "This demo valve has been/ made of anodized aluminum/ which, by its nature, does/ not allow us to machine to/ the necessary tolerances/ and polish of our all/ pyrolytic carbon valve./ It, in no way, manifests/ the true quality, finish, or/ operational characteristics/ of an St. Jude. Medical Valve,/ but only grossly demon-/strates its concept of/ function."
Currently not on view
date made
St. Jude Medical
place made
United States: Minnesota, Saint Paul
Physical Description
anodized aluminum (valve material)
dacron (valve material)
overall: 1 cm x 3 cm x 3 cm x 3 cm; 13/32 in x 1 3/16 in x 1 3/16 in x 1 3/16 in
container: 3 cm x 6.3 cm x 8.3 cm; 1 3/16 in x 2 15/32 in x 3 9/32 in
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Credit Line
Gift of Manuel Villafaña
Artificial Organs
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Medicine
Artificial Heart Valves
Health & Medicine
Data Source
National Museum of American History


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