Starr-Edwards Heart Valve

Starr-Edwards Heart Valve

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Usage conditions apply
This is a Starr-Edwards ball and cage mitral valve, model 6120 extended cloth valve. It is comprised of stellite and silastic, and has good durability and hemodynamics. A primary disadvantage of mechanical valves is the need to take anticoagulants. Because the style of the caged ball valve differed greatly from the form of a natural valve, Starr described it as, "a repugnant intracardiac appliance." The 6120 model improved upon the earlier 6000 model by extending the Dacron material over the entire orifice to cover any bare metal surfaces. The model was produced from 1960 to 1972. It had the advantage of being durable, but the disadvantage of having to take anti-coagulants/blood thinners to prevent clotting. The silicone poppet makes it less noisy than a valve with a metal ball. In a study of 85 patients, the probability of being free of serious embolus for five years post-surgery was 83%.
This valve was manufactured around 1966 by American Edwards Laboratories, a company founded by Dr. Albert Starr, MD (b. 1926) of Bellevue Hospital of Columbia University, and Lowell Edwards (1889-1982), a semi-retired engineer from the University of Oregon. The Starr-Edwards collaboration dates to 1958, when the two creators began to develop and build the first artificial heart. Starr did his residency at Johns Hopkins, where the famed Blalock and Taussig pioneering operation to treat children born with the heart malformation tetralogy of Fallot. While there Dr. Starr worked with Denton Cooley. Edwards started a medical device company that generated more than $300 million in worldwide sales in 1980.
Currently not on view
Object Name
artificial heart valve
date made
ca 1966
American Edwards Laboratories
place made
United States: California, Santa Ana
Physical Description
stellite (valve material)
silastic (valve material)
cloth (valve material)
valve: 3.6 cm x 3.7 cm; 1 13/32 in x 1 15/32 in
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
serial number
Credit Line
Gift of Manuel VillafaƱa
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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My mother had the Starr Edwards valve replaced in1974 and did her well until she died in 1993 of a different problem. My daughter always noticed how she could hear it tick when she got near her. Once a mailman came into her office and leaned over her desk to have her sign something and she heard that ticking. She asked him if he had an artificial valve and he said yes and was astonished that she could tell.
I had a Starr-Edwards aortic valve implanted in 1966 when I was 18; it was replaced with a St. Jude valve in 2008 as part of an ascending aortic prosthesis. My mitral valve was replaced with a Starr Edwards valve in 1975. It's still going strong. I had the pleasure of exchanging emails with Dr. Starr a few years ago in which he shared some of the history of the valve and of his love of fly-fishing!
I found this page as I was curious how many others still had this valve and for how long. My mom received hers November 1971, 49 years ago, at the age of 26. Still working perfectly!
In 1967 at the Age of 14, I was lucky to have a Star Edwards Valve to replace my aortic valve which was not functioning, They used an adult size valve with hopes that it would last me for years. The valve lasted until 1991---which I had an upper aortic aneurysm and the valve was then replaced with a St. Jude valve. I have had open heart surgery more than three times; which included the replacement of the aortic valve twice and the mitral valve, in addition to a bleed aneurysm in the brain, I am 66 years old and I thank the doctors at the Cleveland Clinic for saving my life multiple times.
Dear Mr. Barton, Thank you very much for your comments on the Star Edwards Artificial Heart Valve. Sincerely yours, Judy M. Chelnick, Curator, Division of Medicine and Science, National Museum of American History
Hello, I am Archana Patel from India. I was operated at the age of 13 and now I am 22 with star Edward valve in my heart ticking every second make me believe in magic. Some sort of human magic "Dr. Albert Starr".
My father had this valve (with a metal ball) placed in 1983. He will be 70 years old this year and he still has the same valve without complications. I am always reassured when I hug him and hear his heart clicking away.
My father-in-law Earle Coon had the Star Edwards arotic valve replacement in 1966 in Boston he will be 89 in December is there anyone else that is older or had this valve longer than 51 years and still living without complications???
At age 19 in July 1966 I got my aortic valve replacement in Montreal at linstitut de cardiologie. It was the Starr-Edwards heart valve. The surgeon was Pierre Grondin. I am now 70 years old and still have the same valve.
"At the age of 32 in 1981 I have Aortic Valve Replacement done at Christ Hospital in Cincinnati, Ohio.I still have the same Ball n Cage for over 35 Years. "

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