It’s not every day you get a second chance at life, yet this is exactly what successful entrepreneur and philanthropist Sudhir Choudhrie received 21 years ago. His remarkable story began in India when he was eight years old, and his mother took him for his first full medical exam. When the doctor checked his heart and lungs, he discovered the young boy had a rare condition that caused his heart to skip beats due to a leaking valve. This meant his heart could give out at any time. What followed was a lifetime of health problems, including a predilection to infections caused by his heart condition.
A Leaky Heart Valve Couldn’t Stop Sudhir Choudhrie
Choudhrie didn’t let a leaky heart valve that could give out at any minute hold him back. In 1975 he founded the Magnum Trading Company Ltd, focusing on exploring and expanding India’s export market. He moved on to work with Taj Hotels and Resorts as well as Adidas AG in 1995. He then became a Non-Executive Director of Ebookers PLC between 1999 and 2005, and in 2003, he invested in Air Deccan, India’s first budget airline, which became a major airline in just five years.
His heart gave out on him twice during these years, and it was no surprise when he was told he needed a heart transplant, but he put it off, and eventually collapsed after months of deteriorating health and a demanding work schedule. He could delay no longer; his heart was giving out and he needed a transplant urgently.
Organ Donation Offers the Gift of Life
At age 50, Sudhir Choudhrie’s heart was failing and he was expected to die within hours. His life was dependent on a heart transplant. His brother had died a couple of years before while awaiting a heart transplant, but in the 11th hour, a new heart was found for Choudhrie. A 20-year-old from the Midwest United States, whose heart was a match, died in a motorcycle accident. Had it not been for this young man’s family having the compassion and foresight to allow their son’s heart to save the life of another, Choudhrie would not be here today.
The surgery was performed at Columbia University Medical Center in New York City by popular television host and renowned heart surgeon Dr. Mehmet Oz. After surgery, Choudhrie began to experience terrifying visions. Before he was able to resume any semblance of his previous life, he had to undergo therapy to rid himself of the horrors that haunted him. Through therapy, and adopting a positive attitude, he made a full recovery and now lives a full life.
Passing Along His Gifts
At age 70, Choudhrie is one of the world’s longest living heart transplant recipients. It’s been 21 years since his transplant, and despite advancements in medical science, few transplants have lasted as successfully as his. Choudhrie believes it’s important to take care of your body and make the most of a new lease on life, and most importantly, to adopt a positive attitude. Following his transplant, Choudhrie made two promises to himself: that he would become a source of positive energy and that he would touch the lives of donors and recipients with his insights. He wanted to encourage more people to become donors and so he, along with his family set up the Choudhrie Family Foundation (CFF) in 2010 to support health, education, and medical projects in the United States, the United Kingdom, and around the world.
Sudhir Choudhrie now devotes much of his time to philanthropic efforts, one of the most significant of these includes Green Templeton College and the University of Oxford, where a library now bears the family name. Choudhrie is actively involved in the medical field as a philanthropist along with a number of charities in education and health throughout the United States, the United Kingdom, and India. In 2013, Rt Hon Theresa May MP awarded him the Asian Business Lifetime Achievement Award.
Love, Destiny, and Life
Choudhrie’s transplant led to an important discovery for his family: that he had the titin gene mutation linked to heart failure. Although having the gene mutation doesn’t guarantee your heart will fail, it does substantially increase the risk. It is thought his brother also carried this mutation, which ultimately led to his untimely death. Choudhrie wrote a book based on his experience as a transplant patient, which became an Amazon bestseller. The book, “From My Heart: A Tale of Life, Love, and Destiny,” details his life after the transplant. His key message is that a transplant isn’t a death sentence — in fact it’s the opposite. By changing to a healthy diet and lifestyle it gives you a new lease on life.
In 2009, he established the Sudhir Choudhrie Professorship of Cardiology at the Columbia University Medical Center in response to the care he received. He became actively involved in the transplant community, setting up the Choudhrie Family Foundation in 2010 to fund medical, health, and educational projects across the world. The Choudhrie Family Foundation also supports the #OrgansWill campaign in the United States which aims to sign up 62,500 new organ donors with the potential to save 500,000 lives.