Prominent Minnesota Orthodox Laypersons receive Order of St. Innocent

Until encountering serious health problems in December 2000, Dr. Demetre Nicoloff, a member of Saint Mary Cathedral here, was on the “cutting edge” of his field as a heart surgeon and researcher.

Credited with developing the Saint Jude artificial heart valve in 1977, Dr. Nicoloff underwent a battery of tests at Rochester, MN’s Mayo Clinic which concluded that he was suffering from myoplastic syndrome and then pneumonia. Eventually, a blood clot lodged in his lung, causing Dr. Nicoloff to suffer a stroke.

Unable to attend services, Dr. Nicoloff and his wife, Ardelle, were visited at their suburban Minneapolis home by Protopresbyter Robert Kondratick, Chancellor of the Orthodox Church in America, representing His Beatitude Metropolitan Herman on Saturday, January 4, 2003, at which time he was presented with the Order of Saint Innocent, the OCA’s highest award, for his years of work in alleviating human suffering.

“The Saint Jude valve, first used at the University of Minnesota, has become the industry standard in artificial heart valves and has been used in over 1.5 million operations worldwide,” according to the Very Rev. John Matusiak, OCA Communications Director. “In October 1977, Helen Heikkinen received the first Saint Jude heart valve replacement by Dr. Nicoloff, and by the early 1980s, the valve had already come to be regarded as a major breakthrough in valve replacement surgery. Today, the valve accounts for 80 percent of the US market and 50 percent of the world market, making it the most common medical devise, second only to the Band Aid.”

During his visit, Father Kondratick learned that, while Dr. Nicoloff is a candidate for auto stem cell testing, bone marrow transplant is not an option.

A graduate of Ohio State University, Dr. Nicoloff has served as a member of the Board of Trustees of Saint Vladimir Orthodox Theological Seminary, Crestwood, NY.

In presenting the Order of Saint Innocent, Father Kondratick thanked Dr. Nicoloff for his life-long humanitarian work and prayed that the Physician of souls and bodies would grant him a full recovery.

The following morning, after the Divine Liturgy at Saint Mary’s Cathedral, Father Kondratick presented the Order of Saint Innocent to Judge Harold and Elaine Kalina, who for many years have been avid supporters and participants in a number of OCA, diocesan, and parish programs. Judge Kalina has been active as a member of the OCA’s Administrative Committee and other Administrative organs of the Church, while Mrs. Kalina has been deeply involved in religious education and overseeing the cathedral’s growing library.

We ask that you keep Dr Demetre Nicoloff, his wife Ardelle and his family in your prayers.