St. Jude Medical Artifical Heart Valve

This is one of the early versions of the St. Jude Medical (SJM) artificial heart valve, a bi-leaflet valve made of pyrolytic carbon. There are four pivot points, and the edges of the donut are not as rounded as later models. A white Dacron sewing ring surrounds the valve. The first surgical implant with a SJM heart valve was carried out in October 1977.
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. The SJM valve quickly became the 'gold standard' for subsequent valves.
St. Jude Medical was founded by Manuel "Manny" Villafaña in 1976, in St. Paul, Minnesota, U.S.A. The model for its 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, founder of OnX Life Technologies Inc., is the doctor who developed this material. Manny Villafana is a businessman whose first company was Cardiac Pacemakers, Inc.
Currently not on view
Object Name
artificial heart valve
date made
ca 1976
St. Jude Medical
Physical Description
pyrolytic carbon (valve material)
cloth (valve material)
plastic (container material)
container: 2.15 cm x 5.4 cm x 5.3 cm; 27/32 in x 2 1/8 in x 2 3/32 in
valve: 1.2 cm x 2.9 cm x 2.9 cm x 2.9 cm; 15/32 in x 1 5/32 in x 1 5/32 in x 1 5/32 in
place made
United States: Minnesota, Saint Paul
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Artificial Organs
Artificial Heart Valves
Health & Medicine
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Medicine
Artificial Heart Valves
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
Gift of Manuel Villafaña
Additional Media

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