St. Jude Medical Artificial Heart Valve Set

This box contains various parts of St. Jude Artificial heart valves. There are 5 valves, 4 donuts (with no leaflets or Dacron sewing rings), 1 incomplete valve (lacks a leaflet and cloth suture), and 2 individual leaflets. Demo valves are sometimes made of anodized aluminum instead of pyrolytic carbon. The St. Jude Medical (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, thromboresistance, and durability. It quickly became the 'gold standard' for subsequent valves regardless of their manufacturer. A white Dacron sewing ring surrounds the valve.
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 Villafaña is a businessman whose first company was Cardiac Pacemakers, Inc. The first surgical implant with a SJM valve was carried out in October 1977.
Currently not on view
Object Name
artificial heart valve
date made
St. Jude Medical
Physical Description
plastic (container material)
anodized aluminum (valve material)
dacron (valve material)
container: 3.5 cm x 21.1 cm x 10.7 cm; 1 3/8 in x 8 5/16 in x 4 7/32 in
valve 1: 1 cm x 2.9 cm; 13/32 in x 1 5/32 in
valve 2: .9 cm x 2.5 cm; 11/32 in x 31/32 in
valve 3: 1.1 cm x 3.6 cm; 7/16 in x 1 13/32 in
valve 4: 1 cm x 3 cm; 13/32 in x 1 3/16 in
valve 5: .9 cm x 2.2 cm; 11/32 in x 7/8 in
donut 1: 1.1 cm x 2.5 cm; 7/16 in x 31/32 in
donut 2: 1 cm x 2.5 cm; 13/32 in x 31/32 in
donut 3: 1.1 cm x 2.4 cm; 7/16 in x 15/16 in
donut 4: 1.1 cm x 2.6 cm; 7/16 in x 1 1/32 in
incomplete valve: .8 cm x 1.7 cm; 5/16 in x 21/32 in
leaflet 1: 1.9 cm; 3/4 in
leaflet 2: 2.3 cm; 29/32 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

Visitor Comments

Add a comment about this object

**Please read before submitting the form**

Have a comment or question about this object to share with the community? Please use the form below. Selected comments will appear on this page and may receive a museum response (but we can't promise). Please note that we generally cannot answer questions about the history, rarity, or value of your personal artifacts.

Have a question about anything else, or would you prefer a personal response? Please visit our FAQ or contact page.

Personal information will not be shared or result in unsolicited e-mail. See our privacy policy.

Enter the characters shown in the image.