Swiftly and quietly, Medtronic, a Minneapolis-based medical manufacturer best known for its pacemakers, has become a major player among Orange County manufacturers of heart valves, joining Baxter Edwards and Shiley Laboratories.
Medtronic, which already manufactured mechanical heart valves, last year bought a line of tissue heart valves from Zenotech Laboratories in Irvine. In June, the company opened a plant in Irvine to manufacture the valves. In yet another expansion, Medtronic has completed the purchase of Johnson & Johnson Cardiovascular division in Anaheim, which makes Handcock porcine tissue heart valves and an oxygenator used in open-heart surgery. Medtronic employs 260 workers in Orange County.