Devi Prasad Shetty – The Eminent Surgeon Who Brought Cardiac Surgery Within Reach Of Everyone


Dr. Devi Prasad Shetty

Quick Facts

  • Name: Devi Prasad Shetty
  • Famously Known As: Henry Ford of Heart Surgery
  • Famous As: Cardiac Surgeon
  • Birth Date: 8 May 1953 (Mangalore, Karnataka)
  • Nationality: Indian
  • Awards: Padma Bhushan (2012); Padma Shri (2004); Schwab Foundation’s Award (2005); Dr. B.C. Roy Award (2003)


Do you know who is known in medical world as ‘the Henry Ford of heart surgery’? Did you know that the world’s largest, 1000 bed hospital, for heart surgeries, is in India? Can you name the cardiac surgeon who has performed more than 15,000 heart surgeries? The answers to all these questions lead to the eminent cardiac surgeon from India, Dr. Devi Prasad Shetty.

Dr. Shetty is the Founder of Narayana Health which has a chain of 21 hospitals and medical centers across the country. With the economies of scale, Dr. Shetty brought cardiac surgeries within reach of a common Indian. For his contribution in the field of affordable healthcare, he was honored by the Government of India with the Padma Shri in 2004 and the Padma Bhushan in 2012, the fourth and the third highest civilian award.

Here is more information on him and his brief bio.

Dr. Devi Prasad Shetty – The Henry Ford of Heart Surgery


Early Life

Dr. Devi Prasad Shetty was born on 8th May 1953 at a small village in Dakshina Kannada district, Karnataka, India. He was the eighth out of nine children of Bommaiya Shetty, who ran a chain of Udupi restaurants in Mumbai. At a young age, he was interested to become a doctor. When he was in his fifth grade in school, he heard about the world’s first heart transplant, which was performed by Dr. Christian Bernard, a surgeon in South Africa. This made him decide to become a heart surgeon.

After studying at St. Aloysius, Mangalore; he did his MBBS from Kasturba Medical College, Mangalore in 1978 and completed his MS in 1982. He took training in cardiac surgery at the Leeds and Guy’s Hospital in the United Kingdom.

Professional Career

In 1989, on his return to India he started working at B.M. Birla Hospital in Kolkata. In 1992, he performed the first neonatal heart surgery in India on a 9-day-old baby who was named Ronnie. When Mother Teresa had a heart attack, he successfully operated on her. Later she made him her personal physician. This brought him to the limelight.

Later he shifted to Bangalore and started the Manipal Heart Foundation at Manipal Hospital. His father-in-law contributed financially for the construction of the hospital.

Dr. Shetty believed that the cost of healthcare can be reduced by half within a decade if hospitals adopt the idea of economies of scale. To achieve these, in 2001, Shetty founded the Narayana Hrudayalaya (NH), which was a multi-specialty hospital on the outskirts of Bangalore, at Bommasandra.

HN offered a slew of medical services besides cardiac surgery; such as cardiology, neurosurgery, paediatric surgery, nephrology, haematology and transplant services, and many other services. Shetty and his family own 75 percent shares in NH.

At NH, the heart hospital is the largest in the world with 1000 beds. More than 30 major heart surgeries are performed every day. The land, on which the health city was built, was earlier a marshland which was reclaimed for making the hospital. The Health City plans to cater to about 15,000 outpatients every day.

In August 2012, Dr. Shetty announced an agreement with TriMedx, a subsidiary of Ascension Health, to create a joint venture for a chain of hospitals in India. Earlier Narayana Hrudayalaya had collaborated with Ascension Health to set up a health care city having 2,000 beds in the Cayman Islands.

In Kolkata, where he had started his medical practice, Dr. Shetty founded Rabindranath Tagore International Institute of Cardiac Sciences (RTIICS).

He also signed a MOU with the Karnataka Government to build 5,000-bed specialty hospital near Bangalore International Airport.

His company also signed a MOU with the Gujarat Government to set up a 5,000 bed hospital at Ahmedabad.

During IACCCON 2013 annual scientific session at Bangalore, he was elected as the chief patron of Indian Association of Clinical Cardiologists. He was a part of the seven-member panel of Board of Governors which replaced the Medical Council of India and served for a period of one year before it was further reconstituted.

Dr. Shetty’s Contribution towards Low Cost Health Care

Dr. Shetty wanted his hospitals to take advantage of the economies of scale, and to bring down the cost of heart surgeries.

In 2009, the Wall Street Journal described him as the Henry Ford of heart surgery. That same year, he was granted Fellowship of the Royal College of Surgeons of England.

NH model is being used to make six more hospitals at different cities in India. There are plans to make more hospitals in India, Africa and other countries in Asia to have 30,000 beds.

He has brought down the cost coronary bypass surgery to 95,000 rupees or $1,583, half of what it was 20 years ago. He announced in 2013, that he further plans to bring it down to $800 within a decade.

Some of his initiatives are:

  • Cutting costs with such measures as sourcing cheaper scrubs and not having air conditioning.

  • Eliminating many pre-operation testing.

  • Innovations in patient care, like training family members to administer after-surgical care.

  • Pioneering low-cost diagnostic services.

  • Surgeons doing 30 to 35 surgeries every day as compared to one or two in other heart hospitals around the world.

He performs free surgery for the poor, and his hospitals also provide substantial free care especially for poor children.

He has also helped implement Yeshasvini, a low-cost health insurance scheme, designed by Shetty and the Government of Karnataka, for the poor farmers. Already more than 4 million people have been covered in it.

Dr. Shetty has changed the face of cardiac surgery and brought it within reach of a common Indian.

Quotes by Dr. Devi Prasad Shetty

“It’s preferable to walk regularly rather than jog, because you’re still making your heart work without putting unnecessary strain on your leg joints.”

“Change your attitude towards life. Do not look for perfection in everything in life.”

“In fact, I wanted to become a heart surgeon well before I wanted to become a doctor.”

“India is in a phenomenal position to lead the way, make a difference and show the world a new way of delivering affordable healthcare.”

“Unless we equalize the UG and PG seats in medical collages, this country will not have better health care.”



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Raj Kumar Hansdah
Raj Kumar Hansdah
Raj Kumar Hansdah, better known as RK, fell in love with books at his mother’s knees; and the fascination with the printed word kept growing over the years and still continues to be his passion. An alumnus of IIM-Indore and IISWBM-Kolkata, he had also attended IIM-Calcutta. He has more than two decades of corporate experience with companies in the public and private domain, namely SAIL, Jaypee Group, and Adani Group at the rank of General Manager in the Human Resources vertical. He loves to freelance as a literary consultant, a management consultant, and a writer. When he is not busy reading, ghostwriting or working on his debut thriller; not necessarily in that order; he loves to spend time with his wife and son.

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