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Working on the heart valve
Leeds' heart valve
A heart valve developed in Leeds has been saving lives through heart surgery for the past 30 years.
The aspire™ valve uses tissue from a pig’s heart and was designed by a heart surgeon, Mr David Watson, based at Killingbeck hospital. Mr Watson had set up a charity, Heart Research UK, in 1967.
Mr Watson invented the valve in Leeds
The valve is still produced locally in Swillington by Vascutek and is roughly the size of a two-pence piece, is used to treat patients with diseased heart valves.
During open heart surgery the diseased valve is removed and replaced with the artificial valve allowing blood to flow the correct way from the heart and to the rest of the body.
Making the pig’s heart valve means intricate assembly from experienced staff who use well-honed sewing techniques owing a lot to the area's links with textiles and... pig farming.
Making the valve is an intricate job
The valve is durable and lasts long-term meaning it is unlikely that patients will need further surgery.
In 2006-2007 over 3500 people in the UK had heart valves replaced.
last updated: 08/07/2009 at 15:50
Local history for Leeds