St. Jude Medical Artifical Heart Valve

St. Jude Medical Artifical Heart Valve

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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 Villafaña is a businessman whose first company was Cardiac Pacemakers, Inc.
In an interview for the Smithsonian, Villafaña identified this valve as the first St. Jude valve, "serial number one," made of pyrolytic carbon, January 20, 1977. The interview clip is available online as "Manny Villafana's "No. 1" St. Jude Heart Valve."
Currently not on view
Object Name
artificial heart valve
date made
ca 1976
St. Jude Medical
place made
United States: Minnesota, Saint Paul
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
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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I had my aortic valve replaced with a St Jude's valve in Mar 2001, when I was 39, has been working great ever since, just turned 60. Annual echos and occasional CAT scans to monitor, is pretty much working as well now as when first implanted. It is quite loud to the extent that I can check my pulse just by listening to it, and other folks can hear in a quiet room. This did take a bit of getting used to at first but I now find it quite comforting! Hoping to share another update when I turn 70!!
My aortic valve was replaced May 4, 1981 by Dr. William Crawford at MUSC. They told me they could not give me any longevity time on the valve, but believed it was the best. I was 43 at the time this January I will be 84 y/o. I tried until 5 years ago to contact Dr. Crawford to let him know I was still here, he was still at MUSC but unable to reach him just wanted to say thank you.
Hi, I thank you for my St Jude Heart valve. I was one of the last patients of Dr. Petracek at St Thomas Heart Hospital West in Nashville, who invented the Bentyl procedure to replace the aortic valve and add a graft of gortex tubing to brachial arteries. I had it done in 2006 due to Marfan Syndrome and still doing well.
My St Jude aortic valve was implanted August 2000 in Curitiba Brazil. It is working well. Great job!!!
I received my St. Jude aortic valve in April 2015 at Geisinger Medical Center in Danville, PA to replace a porcine aortic valve which failed after 8 years. I was 62 y.o. when receiving the St. Jude valve and have enjoyed an active life since then. Sounds like the valve has an excellent reputation and super good service record.
I had mine installed on my 50th birthday by the amazing dr israel jacobowitz in maimonides hosp in brooklyn. Im 65 yrs strong!
I had mine implanted 1n 1996 by Joseph N Cunningham in Maimonides also. Jacobwitz was a colleague of DR. Cunningham back then. Going on 24 years. And still ticking loudly. I'm in my late 70"s
My twin brother and I had our St Jude aortic valves composite grafts implanted (Marfan Syndrome) by Dr. Vincent Gott in 1986 at Johns Hopkins Hospital. We were age 35 back then with small children. Now age 68 and enjoying our grandchildren !
Thank you for your valve. I had mine implanted in the aortic position on January 8, 1992. I was 21 years old. I'm still doing great 27 years later.

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