Lillehei-Kaster OmniCarbon Heart Valve

This Lillehei-Kaster OmniCarbon pivoting-disc valve has a pyrolytic carbon and graphite ring and cage and a Dacron sewing ring. Lillehei-Kaster valve was in production 1970 and 1987. Tilting disc valves were first introduced by Lillehei-Kaster in 1969. These valves demonstrated high durability due to their pyrolyte composition and had "essentially no valve failures."
Robert Kaster received a mechanical engineering degree from the University of Minnesota (1951) and later worked at Cornell Medical School as a biological engineer. He became interested in designing prostheses while working in Dr. C. Walton Lillehei's laboratory. It was there that he designed the tilting disc valve. The disc is held in place by two side prongs. Kaster also worked with another valve creator, Dr. Jack Bokros, to develop the disc. Lillehei-Kaster valves were produced by Medical Incorporated in Minneapolis.
Dr. Walton (Walt) Lillehei (1918-1999) was named the "father of open heart surgery" by the American Heart Association. He earned his undergraduate, medical degree, and doctorate in surgery degrees from the University of Minnesota. He became a professor of medicine for the university and trained other cardiac surgeons such as Christiaan Barnard of Cape Town, South Africa, who performed the first heart transplant. Lillehei and a colleague, Dr. Richard Wall, resolved the issue of circulating blood during surgery by developing a successful helix reservoir bubble oxygenator. He also helped to develop one of the first successful pacemakers in 1957, and contributed to the design of the successful and widely used St. Jude Medical valve. During the 1960s, Dr. Lillehei was president of the American College of Cardiology and in 1975, he became director of medical affairs at St. Jude Medical Incorporated.
Currently not on view
Object Name
artificial heart valve
date made
after 1970
Medical Incorporated
Physical Description
dacron (valve material)
cloth (valve material)
pyrolytic carbon (valve material)
valve: .8 cm x 2.6 cm; 5/16 in x 1 1/32 in
place made
United States: Minnesota, Minneapolis
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Health & Medicine
Artificial Heart Valves
Artificial Organs
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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