Heart-valve inventor Donald Shiley dead at 90

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LOS ANGELES (BNO NEWS) — Donald Shiley, one of the co-inventors of Pfizer’s Bjork-Shiley heart valve, died on Saturday. He was 90.

Shiley, whose health had been failing for years, was one of the inventors of the Bjork-Shiley valve that changed the face of heart surgery since 1971, when it was first used to replace the aortic or mitral valves. It was first marketed by Shiley Inc, a company that had around 1,000 employees at its peak and manufactured a broad range of cardiovascular and blood handling devices. The firm, based in Irvine, was sold to Pfizer in 1978 after Shiley lost his first wife, Pat.


After the sale, Shiley retired and later married his second wife, 32-year-old Darlene, who stayed with him until he passed away on Saturday. Together, they donated millions of dollars to various medical causes. Shiley’s wealth was estimated to be around $400 million in late 2006 and the couple owned homes in downtown San Diego and Pauma Valley.

In 2002, they gave $10 million to the University of San Diego to help build a science and technology center. Their name also graces the Shiley Eye Center at UC San Diego, the result of some $3 million in donations starting in 1988.

Shiley has been credited with saving hundreds of thousands of lives around the world with the help of his invention. He is survived by his wife and four children and five grandchildren.

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