Trivia: Who Is The World’s Longest Living Heart Valve Recipient?

It is perhaps one of the most common and appropriate questions I receive from patients and their caregivers. That question is, “What is my life expectancy after heart valve surgery?”

As we all know, every patient case is unique. But, the research suggests that life expectancy after heart valve surgery continues to improve thanks to incredible advancements in medical technology and surgical know-how.

To this point, I was just reading a very interesting story in the Sentinel-Tribune about Bobby Baker.

In case you didn’t know, Bobby Baker just received a Guinness Book World Record for being the longest, living survivor of heart valve replacement surgery.


Bobby Baker sits with his dog and shows off four valves
installed in his heart from past surgeries.

Here are the highlights from Bobby Baker’s amazing story:

  • After two bouts with rheumatic fever, Baker had his first aortic valve replacement surgery in 1960. At the time, Baker was just 11 years old.
  • His surgeon, Dr. Earle B. Kay, hand-stitched the mechanical aortic heart valve replacement used on Baker. The valve was half-moon in style. When the heart pumped blood toward it, the pressure folded the leaflets apart.
  • Baker had two more aortic valve replacement surgeries in 1964 (ball-and-cage valve) and 1982 (Bjork-Shiley valve).
  • In 2004, Bobby Baker had his mitral valve replaced with a CarboMedics bi-leaflet mitral valve.

“Talking about it brings all the memories back,” Baker said as tears moistened his eyes while recalling the outpouring of concern people had for him over the years. “It’s hard.”


Ball And Cage Valve

According to the 60-year old Baker from Wayne, Ohio, he is now creating buzz to develop a documentary about heart valve surgery to celebrate the 50 years since American heart doctors pioneered heart valve replacement surgery.

“There’s still a lot that needs to be done for heart valve research,” states Baker.

Keep on tickin’ Bobby!

Adam Pick
Written by Adam Pick

Adam Pick is a patient, author of The Patient's Guide To Heart Valve Surgery and the founder of HeartValveSurgery.com.

To learn how Adam has helped millions of people with heart valve disease, watch Adam's video, subscribe to his free newsletter, or visit his Facebook, or Twitter pages.

  • Dale

    I am 59 years old and Dr Earl B. Kay performed open heart surgery on me on June 21, 1972. Dr Kay sewed in a Kay Suzuki discoid #2 valve which was replaced on June 19, 2009 at Hopkins Hospital by Dr. Duke Cameron. It was still working after nearly 38 years. I had it replaced because I developed an aneurysm at my aortic root. I don’t know if that is a record, but that is my story.

  • Cynthia Lynn Brooks

    I have enjoyed reading your information on this website. I was born with a mitral valve defect in December of 1969. I have had my mitral valve replaced twice. I also have several other heart diseases that have occured over the years. I now have a pacemaker/defibrillator implant. I was just curious as to the longest a mitral valve has worked in someone. I have had my St. Judes Mechanical Valve for 25 years and 5 months. I am only 39 years old. I wish to someday write a book about my experience, any advise… I will try and get a copy of your book to read, I know it will be an experience for me and helpful as well. God Bless and take care. I hope to hear from you soon. Have a blessed Day.
    Cynthia Lynn Brooks

  • Richard Erickson

    Adam,

    I enjoyed reading about Bobby Baker and his multiple valve surgeries. I am very happy he is doing well, as I am about to have my 4th aortic valve replacement within the next six months.

    Your website gives all of us a more positive outlook on life after valve replacement through the education and understanding you provide.

    Thanks for being there for us.

  • Charlotte

    I had open heart surgery on March 9, 1977. I had Rheumatic Fever when I was 9 years old. My aortic valve began to reguritate after I gave birth and 6 years later my heart began to enlarge. I had to have the aortic valve replaced. Now that I am 60 years old and the valve is 33 years old tomorrow, I realize that I am becoming more afraid that my days on this earth are probably very near to an end.

    My heart surgeon, Robert Karp, has since deceased. My cardiologist will not discuss my concern regarding my life expectancy. Where can I get some reliable information about my valve and how much longer I am expected to live. I know God has kept me for these 33 years – but I am still interested in learning what the medical statistics are.

  • Dick Feusner

    I had my aortic valve replaced with a Starr-Edwards(ball-in-cage) mechanical valve Aug. 16, 1967 at age 31. I am now 74 and that original valve continues to function. The surger was performed at the University of Kentucky (Chandler Med Ctr) by Dr. Richard Wood (now at Baylor in Texas). I live a normal life without any restrictions. The surgeons told me that this valve had a 50 year life expectancy….so I’ve got about 8 to go.

  • Charles Grech

    I had my aortic valve replaced with a mechanical one in 2002 when I was 58 years old, when I asked the surgeon before the operation, how long will the valve last he said that I will die but the valve keeps on ticking, and I feel he was right becouse when i go for a check the angiogram shows that it still working ok.
    Now the problem is that my mitral is stenosed and I my go for a balloon valvolopsy to widen the valve. hoping that everything will goes well, I have a great trust in the ability of the surgeons.

  • Joseph Ashley Moore

    With regards to my previous comment. My mitral valve was replaced by a pig’s valve. Since the surgery I have had no further health problems. I went on to a 25 year police career, played first class rugby for many years and I am still extremely active.

    I have today submitted details of my operation to the Guinness Book of World Records for consideration

  • Patrick shannon

    congatulations Bob. I am the son of Richard Shannon(deceased nov09) who was born 27Jul1939 and had his first heart valve replacement surgury at age 21. His second was 35 years later. I can’t remember the exact dates but I know he had the most recent surgury in 2006 at Barrows in Arizona. I will research more exact info and check back.

  • Steve Eneas

    I had my aortic valve replacement in November 1979 in the United Kingom when I was 18 years old. I was born with an aortic stenosis and the Cardiac Consultant wanted to wait until I was 21 however had to have it done earlier. All is still working very well 31 years later and in fact I’ve just got my 2nd Dan Black Belt in Karate at the age of 50 and cycle 30 + miles on a regular basis.
    Just wanted to let everyone know that life doesn’t stop with heart valve replacement.

  • Colleen Graham

    Well done Bob, I also had a Starr Edward Valve in 1972 in Melbourne Australia, I am told the valve is still doing what it’s supposed to do, Had a pacemaker\defribrillator implant 3 years ago. Am soon to be 59 years old,have allways done moderate exercise and walk a lot which I am sure is the answer for my continuance of life,I might consider retiring soon.

  • http://dmrapp@comcast.net Dale Rapp

    I have ofter wondered what I could expect the life of a Bjork-Shiley aortic heart valve might be and what was the most current longevity record might be. My valve was implanted on 8/9/1972 and I recently celebrated the 39th anniversary. Does anyone keep stats that might answer that question?

  • Pauline Ratchford

    Hi everyone – my Dad, David Wise had a Starr-Edwards ball valve replacement in 1965. The operation was carried out at Hammersmith Hospital in London. My dad is celebrating his 80th birthday this year and whilst the rest of his body is giving up – the valve is still going strong!

  • Bob Kimball

    Very interesting.I was born in 1951 with a congenital heart condition. At age 17 I had open heart surgery (pulmonary valvelotomy) at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester, NY.
    Since then, I have run a 10k race in 41 minutes, worked 84 hr. weeks on a railroad track gang as well as pick and shovel work during the middle of summer in the desert outside Tucson, Arizona.
    I retired 4 years ago as a NYS Parole Officer after 30 years of service.
    I owe these past 43 years of my life to the great Doctors at Strong Hospital: Dr. James Manning (cardiologist) and Frank Mahone(surgeon).
    God bless all of you and the amazing Doctors without whom we would not be here!
    Gotta run – have a tee time to catch!

  • Kaushal Girdhar

    Currently I am 62 years old. Back in 1980 Dr ramesh Arora of GB Pant hospital New Delhi advised to replace valve after reumatic heart disease. Dr Girinath at railway hospital Madras operated on me in November 1980 and replaced with mechanical aorota valve.
    Its been 32+ years since then.

  • Stanley G. Tryon

    In Sept. 20, 1967, I had my aorta valve replaced with a ball and cage mechanical one. Then in Jan. 2000, they found ball and cage unit in egg shape foram and leaking bad. Replaced in Feb. 2. 2000. I was 23 at the first one installed. I have performed my life to the fullest. Very active even at this data. I am a urelthane foam applicator on roofs and insulation in buildings. If of any question please contact me. Thanks

  • Dale Rapp

    I am interested in knowing who has lived the longest with the same artificial aortic heart vave. My implant date was August 9, 1972.
    Dale Rapp

  • Merilee Brown

    I so appreciate this blog. Thank you to all of the folks who are willing to share their experiences. It means a lot and is very encouraging.

  • Neil Gibson

    My Nan has a Starr Edwards aortic valve. She had the operation on 30/9/69 at Brook Hill Hospital, London.
    She’s now 86 & still has the original valve from operation nearly 43 years without ever having a replacement. A World Record claim has been submitted recently to see if she gets awarded this record. Longest time on the same valve, fingers crossed.

  • David Spelts

    I had valve sugery in Jan. 1962 and June 2008. Keep on ticking. I’m at work now so gotta go….

  • Gary Kasper

    I`m not sure anyone will believe this, on May 28, 2003 I had my eighth valve job. Some operations were replacement, some were repairs. Both aortic and mitral valves were involved. I had rheumatic fever as a young child, then as a young man I had bacterial endocarditous, ( infection) witch damaged the mitral valve along with the already damaged aortic valve. The last operation was done through the Mayo clinic at St. Marys Hospital in Rochester Minnesota by Hartzell V Schaff. The first four were at KU Medical Center, The next three were done at St. Lukes in Kansas City. Then lucky number eight at St. Marys, exactly three months after number seven. Number three and four were done on the same day, reop number four late at night due to the loss of seventeen units of blood after op number three that morning. I just turned fifty nine in November, and until this year worked full time as a tool and die maker. I too have considered writing a book, would use spell check if I did. Gary

  • Tony Alley

    I had my third Aortic Valve replaced in 1984, 30 years ago with a 25mm Bjork shiley monostrut valve. I am anxious to know how long it will last. Should it be replaced before it goes wrong or should it be left alone ? What would be the greater risk ? Or should this be gods decision ?

  • Mark McKenzie

    I had my first Heart valve surgery in late 1963 (Flap type valve – Gott Daggit?). In 1970 at age 13 my first valve had to be replace as scare tissue had grown, so the flap would not close properly. It was replaced with a Starr Edwards Valve and has been going ever since. I am now 57 years old, so it is 44 years old.

  • Susan

    I had my first valve mitral valve surgery in 1972 at 22 because I was born with a defective mitral valve in Phoenix, AZ. I had a Saint Judes metal mitral valve replacement in 1985 at 37 and I AM 66 now and I have a great life.

  • S Redden

    I had my first valve mitral valve surgery in 1972 at 22 because I was born with a defective mitral valve in Phoenix, AZ. I had a Saint Judes metal mitral valve replacement in 1985 at 37 and I AM 65 now. I just updated my Saint Jude medical device identification. 29 years with a metal mitral valve in August of this year. As a women, I have lived a long time with a metal mitral valve.

  • Mark McKenzie

    I had my first valve replacement when I was about 6 years to 7 years old (1963 or 64). I had a Starr Edwards valve put in when I was 13 (1970). I am currently 57, making the Starr Edwards valve 44 years old and still working Great. I have other Heart related problems, but the valve is still working as it was designed to!

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