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David Sheridan, inventor of modern catheter, at 95

ARGYLE, N.Y. -- David S. Sheridan, who is credited with inventing the modern disposable catheter, died Thursday at home, his family said. He was 95.

Active in the catheter business until the age of 90, Mr. Sheridan was dubbed the "Catheter King" in 1988 by Forbes Magazine, which wrote: "David Sheridan is a throwback to an earlier age when a man without a formal education could tinker and invent his way to a fortune, as Edison or Ford did."

In the 1930s, Mr. Sheridan had a floor refinishing business in Westchester County when a friend convinced him to put up his $35,000 in savings to begin U.S. Catheter and Instrument Corp. in Queensbury, about 50 miles north of Albany, N.Y.

Mr. Sheridan, with only an eighth-grade education, left the company in 1945 and bought a farm in nearby Argyle, in rural upstate New York. By 1953, he was tinkering with catheter designs again, aiming to build a better urethral catheter.

Until World War II, urethral catheters were usually made of braided cotton strings that looked like shoelaces and were repeatedly laminated. And they were used repeatedly.

"I always had the idea that a catheter shouldn't be used any more than one time," he said in a 1994 interview with the Associated Press.

So, Mr. Sheridan built a machine that made plastic catheter tubes. He later figured out a way to produce plastic catheters with wider ends and put a line of radioactive paint down a catheter that would show up on X-rays.

In 1959, Mr. Sheridan sold his second successful company to Sherwood Medical, then built a third and sold that one to Mallinckrodt Medical in 1974. His fourth, Mr. Sheridan Catheter Corp., was started in 1982, when he was 73. In 1994, he sold SCC to Kendall/Tyco and remained as a consultant for the company until the age of 90.

"This is my cup of tea," Mr. Sheridan said during the 1994 interview in an office filled with catheters.

Mr. Sheridan, who held more than 50 patents, was born on July 10, 1908, in Brooklyn, the second of six sons of Adolf and Anna Sokolof, who immigrated to the United States from Russia. He changed his name in 1939.

Mr. Sheridan pioneered a plastic endotracheal tube used routinely in surgery. At 84, he was honored by the American Society of Anesthesiology as a "pioneer and innovator" in the field for developing the first cardiac catheters and the "Saratoga Sump Drain" and "Salem Stomach Sump Drain."

"Dave Sheridan has saved the lives of millions worldwide by making surgery safer," said Dr. Ralph Alley in 1994. Alley was a retired thoracic surgeon at Albany Medical Center and adviser to Mr. Sheridan on some designs.

As philanthropists, Mr. Sheridan and his wife, Janet, donated millions, mostly to medical institutions.

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