Edwards Lifesciences’ roots date to 1958, when Miles “Lowell” Edwards set out to build the first artificial heart.
Edwards was a 60-year-old, recently retired engineer holding 63 patents in an array of industries, with an entrepreneurial spirit and a dream of helping patients with heart disease. His fascination with healing the heart was sparked in his teens, when he suffered two bouts of rheumatic fever, which can scar heart valves and eventually cause the heart to fail.
With a background in hydraulics and fuel pump operations, Edwards believed the human heart could be mechanized. He presented the concept to Dr. Albert Starr, a young surgeon at the University of Oregon Medical School, who thought the idea was too complex. Instead, Starr encouraged Edwards to focus first on developing an artificial heart valve, for which there was an immediate need.
After just two years, the first Starr-Edwards mitral valve was designed, developed, tested, and successfully placed in a patient. Newspapers around the world reported on what they termed a “miraculous” heart surgery.
This innovation spawned a company, Edwards Laboratories, which set up shop in Santa Ana, California – not far from where Edwards Lifesciences’ corporate headquarters is located today.
In 1966, Edwards Laboratories was purchased by American Hospital Supply Corporation and became American Edwards Laboratories. Then, in 1985, American Edwards was acquired by Baxter International Inc. In early 2000, the company was spun-off as an independent, publicly-held corporation and began trading on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol “EW.”
Our spirit of innovation remains central to Edwards today. The number of patients requiring treatment for cardiovascular disease and critical illnesses is increasing dramatically, and further growth is expected in the future. Several factors are feeding this dynamic: an aging population, high incidence of rheumatic fever in developing nations, and improved diagnostic techniques that allow physicians to detect problems sooner.
Today, we continue to lead the field of tissue replacement heart valves and repair products and advanced hemodynamic monitoring, which have helped treat and manage more than 2 million patients worldwide.
With more than 50 years of experience, we have grown into a global company, with a presence in approximately 100 countries and approximately 8,500 employees around the world. Each one of them is dedicated to furthering Edwards’ original vision to help clinicians, patients and their families work together as a united community fighting cardiovascular disease and critical illnesses.