Lemole-Cooley Mitral Heart Valve

This valve, designed by doctors Gerald Lemole and Denton Cooley, is one of the rarest concept designs for a heart valve. It is not circular like other artificial heart valves, but rather, oval shaped like the mitral valve itself. This artificial valve has a Dacron fabric ring. It is the only valve the donor Manuel “Manny” Villafaña has seen that is not circular. But, for the valve to work well, it has to be big enough in size. The valve needs something to push the blood through, and this design would not work sufficiently. As a result, it was never implanted. The 'disc' has two prongs that have ball shapes at its ends.
Dr. Denton Cooley’s (b. 1920) career parallels the evolution of heart surgery beginning in the 1940s and 1950s. He was an intern for Dr. Alfred Blalock (1899-1964) and Dr. Helen Taussig (1898-1986), the first doctors to surgically correct malformations of the heart by reconstructing the valves (Blalock-Taussig Operation.) Dr. Cooley considered this breakthrough, "the dawn of heart surgery." He received training at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in 1944 and started a practice at Baylor College in Houston, TX. He led the team which implanted the first artificial heart in a human in 1969.
Dr. Gerald Lemole, MD (b. 1937) trained in Houston with Dr. Michael DeBakey and Dr. Denton Cooley. In 1968, he was on the team that carried out the first successful heart transplant in the United States. Lemole is also known to play rock music in the operating room. In 1991, he traveled to Beijing, China, to train surgeons in open-heart surgery and give lectures. He served as chief of cardiothoracic surgery at Temple University Hospital and chief of cardiovascular surgery at Medical Center of Delaware, Christiana Hospital.
The manufacturer, Surgitool Inc., was founded by Harry Cromie and Dr. George Magovern creators of the sutureless Magovern-Cromie Valve.
Currently not on view
Object Name
artificial heart valve
date made
ca 1965
Surgitool, Inc.
Physical Description
fabric, dacron (valve material)
plastic (valve material)
valve: 1.5 cm x 4.1 cm x 3.5 cm; 19/32 in x 1 5/8 in x 1 3/8 in
place made
United States: Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Artificial Heart Valves
Artificial Organs
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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