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From being a brown-belt budokan karate expert to setting up Narayana Health City, Dr Devi Prasad Shetty has done it all with passion and panache. But if you ask him about his work, the answer may just run along the lines of, "the heart is simple to understand and easy to replace. "
The first heart surgeon in the country to perform surgeries on newborn babies, today his hospital, Narayana Hrudayalaya, is almost synonymous with heart procedures - popular with people not only from within India but also from Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan and the Middle East.
The cardiologist, who recommends karate to all children, starts his day at 5. 30 am. While still on the treadmill, he finishes with the first round of meetings with surgeons in Kolkata and Bangalore over the phone. From conceptualising successful programmes such as Yashaswini - a micro health insurance programme - to managing the world's largest telemedicine programme along with the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), Shetty has pioneered the path of taking healthcare at affordable cost to the masses.
Shetty's hero is Mother Teresa who, he says, "came into my life as a heart patient and my life has never been the same". Not surprisingly then, he has a special love for Kolkata. "I started my career in Kolkata, my children were born there, people are warmer and it represents the true India for me, " he says, adding that he plans to spend his old age treating people and setting up health institutes in Africa.
With a mission in his mind to create 5, 000-bed health cities in every state capital, Shetty says, "The power of a leader lies not in the assets he possesses or the bank balance he has;it is the number of talented, passionate people who are willing to follow him in building an institution. A person who has loyalty of the maximum number of such people is the most powerful person. "
He says he owes his success to his supportive family. Wife Shakunthala is a kindergarten teacher, while elder son Viren is a civil engineer. The other son, Varun, is a doctor aspiring to be a cardiac surgeon, and his third son, Anish, is pursuing his MBBS degree. His youngest child, Ameya, whom he calls 'Princess', is in Class 11.
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