Philanthropist, heart valve inventor dies

By City News Service

Pioneering heart valve inventor and San Diego philanthropist Donald Shiley died at the age of 90 after several years of poor health, it was reported Sunday.

Shiley passed away Saturday, according to The San Diego Union-Tribune.

Shiley collaborated with Swedish cardiologist Dr. Viking Bjork to develop the Bjork-Shiley heart valve, which helped regulate the flow of blood to and from the heart and is credited with saving hundreds of thousands of lives.

The device was marketed by Shiley Inc., which he later sold to Pfizer. He became one of San Diego’s richest men in the process.

His name is on research centers throughout San Diego thanks to donations in the tens of millions of dollars. Those include the Shiley Eye Center at UC San Diego, the Shiley Center for Science and Technology at the University of San Diego and the Donald P. Shiley Cardiovascular Research Center at San Diego State University.

He and his second wife of 32 years, Darlene, also contributed to Alzheimer’s research programs, the Old Globe Theater and the University of Portland.

Shiley was born on a farm near Yakima, Wash. and served in the Navy before beginning his career with a medical engineering firm.

Shiley is survived by four children and five grand-children.

The newspaper reported that the family requested, in lieu of flowers, that donations be made to the Shiley Eye Center.

A private funeral mass was pending.