Cardiac Pioneer Dr. Devi Prasad Shetty’s Story: A game-changer in Healing Hearts and Making Healthcare Accessible to All

Who is Dr. Devi Prasad Shetty?

Dr. Devi Prasad Shetty is a well-known cardiologist and the Chairman of Narayana Hrudayalaya Limited. He is a successful entrepreneur and visionary leader in healthcare reform. He is renowned for his innovative approaches to making quality healthcare accessible to all. He has conducted more than 15,000 heart surgeries in his three decades. He is married to Shakuntala Shetty, and they have 4 sons, his elder son Varun Shetty is also a well-known doctor.

"Cardiac Pioneer Dr. Devi Prasad Shetty’s Story: A game-changer in  Healing Hearts ,and Making Healthcare Accessible to All"

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Dr. Devi Prasad Shetty Biography

His pioneering work includes co-founding Yeshaswini, a low-cost micro health insurance scheme benefiting over 3.4 million rural poor in collaboration with the Government of Karnataka. Currently, he is serving as the Chairman of the Board of Governors at the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore. A strong advocate for leveraging technology in healthcare, he also holds a US Patent for a computer-implemented method to facilitate patient care.

His journey from a determined young student to a famous heart surgeon in Narayana Hrudayalaya and philanthropist is inspiring.

Devi Dhetty Family And Early Life

Dr Shetty was born on 8th May 1953, in Kinnigoli Village of Karnataka. He was eighth among his nine siblings, He was part of a large family that presented its own set of challenges. Growing up with nine siblings, he often found himself the target of teasing and banter. He says, it helped him in the ability to cope with the dynamics of a bustling life and shaped his character. At a very early age, he decided to become a doctor.

In the fifth grade, he found his passion for science. That time, he stumbled upon the awe-inspiring story of a South African surgeon accomplishing the world's first heart transplant. This extraordinary feat left an indelible mark on his mind and he was fuelled by his unwavering determination to pursue a career in medicine and make a significant impact on healthcare accessibility. From that pivotal moment, Dr. Devi Prasad Shetty embarked on a remarkable journey and eventually became a renowned cardiac surgeon and healthcare luminary.

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Devi Shetty Educational and Career:

Dr Shetty completed his Bachelor's Degree in Medicine and completed his Post-Graduate work in General Surgery at the Kasturba Medical College in Mangalore in 1982. Due to the lack of heart surgery training facilities in India, he went to England.

He was appointed to the Cardiothoracic Unit of the Guy's Hospital London in 1983 and worked there for 6 years. After gaining invaluable experience in the cutting-edge healthcare environment abroad, in 1989, he returned to India. In the beginning, he found it difficult to get a job in India, as heart surgery was still quite new in the country. B.M. Birla Foundation, which had just set up a hospital in Calcutta, offered him a job as a cardiac surgeon. Then, he set up the Hospital with 140 beds. He had successfully performed the first Indian neonatal heart transplant surgery in 1992, on a 9-day-old baby. With time he treated many people. 

When he completed 100 heart surgeries, he became very well-known and got a chance to become the personal physician of Mother Teresa after she had a heart attack. He was deeply influenced by her simplicity and kindness. He says that he found divinity in her presence. Later in 1997, he decided to Shift to Bangalore. 

In Bengaluru, Shetty turned his dream of affordable quality healthcare into reality. In 2001, he established Narayana Hrudalaya, a 280-bed heart hospital, offering some of the country's lowest-cost heart surgeries. Simultaneously, he initiated a unique micro health insurance scheme, Yeshasvini, for farmers. With a monthly contribution of Rs 5 (Now Rs 10), they could receive free surgeries at designated state hospitals, supported by the Karnataka government. Now it is merged with the Central Government's Ayushman Bharat plan. He also won the Karnataka Ratna Award in 2001. As of 2010, Dr. Shetty serves as the Chairman of Narayana Hrudayalaya Private Limited in Bangalore.

Mother Teresa's Influence

Dr Shetty was Mother Teresa's physician, for the last five years of her life. Her selfless dedication to humanity inspired him. She always made it a point to go with him on his rounds while he was treating her. She once witnessed him checking on a newborn who had a hole in his heart and Shetty had successfully repaired it. Mother Teresa said to him, "When babies are born with heart defects, God decides that something is wrong and that someone needs to cure it. He dispatches someone such as you to carry out this task." 

He says, "It was the best job description of a heart surgeon he had heard." Her praise inspired him and assured him that there is a greater purpose, and his entire method of working is altered." finally Shetty discovered his actual vocation. Mr Shetty credits her as the driving force behind Narayana Hrudayalaya's establishment.  He was greatly influenced by her teachings as she was a strong proponent of love's ability to overcome all obstacles and win hearts and minds.

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He is driven by a deep-seated commitment to serve the underprivileged, Dr Shetty also implemented the world's cheapest comprehensive health insurance scheme. His philanthropic endeavours earned him accolades, including the title of the "Henry Ford of heart surgery." According to Deccan Herald, Karnataka newspaper, Rural Indians call him "Bypasswale Baba". Because, like a saint, anybody can come to Devi Shetty's Ashram/hospital.

Vision for the Future

Looking ahead, Dr. Devi Prasad owner of Narayana Health envisions expanding to other developing countries in Asia and Africa. His dedication to making quality healthcare accessible continues to inspire change on a global scale.

Shetty emphasizes the shortage of healthcare professionals, advocating for apprenticeship courses in existing hospitals, backed by online education, over building large medical colleges. He envisions India becoming a global healthcare provider with proper focus. Shetty's tips for a healthy life include spiritual belief, self-love with moderation, and surrounding oneself with loved ones.

Today, he says that he is in a position to tell any patient coming for treatment to pay him whatever they can afford and if they can't, they will do the operation for free.

Dr. Devi Prasad Shetty Net Worth

Dr. Shetty's contributions to healthcare have not gone unnoticed. He has received numerous awards. Time magazine recognized him among the "50 most influential people in healthcare." According to Forbes, his net worth is USD 1.4 billion.

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Prestigious Awards

He won the Dr B C Roy Award, the Sir M. Visvesvaraya Memorial Award and the Ernst & Young - Entrepreneur Of The Year award in 2003. In 2004, Dr. Devi Shetty was honoured with the prestigious Padma Shri award for his outstanding contributions to the field of Medicine. In 2005, he received the Schwab Foundation's award, recognizing his impactful work. 

In 2012, Dr. Devi Shetty also received the Padma Bhushan Award for Medicine, acknowledging his significant contributions to the healthcare field. The same year, he was recognized as the Entrepreneur of the Year at the prestigious Economic Times awards, highlighting not only his medical expertise but also his entrepreneurial prowess and innovative leadership in the healthcare sector.


Dr Devi Prasad Shetty's remarkable journey from a small village in Karnataka to becoming a global healthcare luminary showcases the transformative impact one individual can have on society. His commitment to reducing healthcare costs, innovative solutions, and unwavering philanthropy serve as a beacon of hope for a healthier and more equitable world. Dr. Shetty's life story emphasizes the profound impact that education, passion, and compassion can have in shaping the future of healthcare for the betterment of humanity.


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