Sudhir Choudhrie’s story is a difficult but inspiring one. The 71-year-old entrepreneur and philanthropist learned he had a serious health condition at an early age, but he has continued to create a positive impact in the lives of those around him.
Choudhrie is well known for ventures such as the Cardiology Professorship at Columbia University Medical Centre established his name. He also supports transplant patients by promoting organ donations and offering his insights into his own heart transplant. Understanding Mr. Choudhrie’s passion for changing lives requires an understanding of his life journey and the way he has turned a serious illness into a benefit for both his own family and society in general.
Early Life & Career
Choudhrie was born in 1949 in Delhi, India. His father died when he was very young, but his mother was an excellent role model and caregiver throughout his life. She took him for his first complete medical exam when he was eight years old, which showed that his heart had a leaking valve. This rare condition caused his heart to skip, indicating that it could fail at any time. Choudhrie experienced a lifetime of health problems related to his heart condition, but he never let it prevent him from succeeding. He graduated from high school with high grades that gained him admission to the University of Delhi. He earned a degree in economics and briefly worked for his grandfather in real estate before starting his own business.
Choudhrie founded Magnum Trading Company Ltd in 1975 to explore India’s emerging export market. He moved into tourism with Taj Hotels and Resorts followed by a stint with Adidas AG in 1995. Choudhrie was also a director at Ebookers PLC from 1999 to 2005. In addition, he invested heavily in Air Deccan beginning in 2003, helping it become India’s major budget airline within five years.
Choudhrie suffered two heart attacks during this period and months of deteriorating health showed he could no longer delay the transplant. Choudhrie’s transplant required genetic testing, which discovered he has the titin gene mutation linked to premature heart failure. This mutation substantially increases this risk.
A compatible donor heart was finally found in 1999, when Choudhrie was only expected to live a few more hours. The donor was a 20-year-old man from the United States and Choudhrie wouldn’t be alive today were it not for the foresight and compassion of this young man’s family.
Renowned heart surgeon and television host Dr. Mehmet Oz performed the surgery at Columbia University Medical Center in New York City. Choudhrie experienced visions after the surgery that required him to undergo therapy before he could resume his life. The therapy helped him adopt a positive attitude, and he made a full recovery.
Philosophy & Gratitude
After 22 years, Choudhrie is one of the longest living heart transplant recipients in the world. Few of these operations have been as successful, despite the medical advances that have occurred since then. His outcome has fostered Choudhrie’s belief in making the most out of a second chance in life by adopting a positive attitude and taking care of your body.
Choudhrie made two promises to himself after his transplant. The first was to become a source of positive energy, and the second was to touch the lives of organ donors and recipients. Choudhrie and his family established an organization, the Choudhrie Family Foundation, in 2010 to encourage more people to become organ donors.
This organization promotes medical projects and health education programs in the U.S., U.K., and other countries throughout the world. For example, it supports the #OrgansWill campaign in the U.S., which plans to obtain 62,500 new organ donors. Reaching this goal will potentially save 500,000 lives.
Choudhrie currently spends much of his time on philanthropic efforts. One of the most significant of these include the Choudhrie Family Foundation’s donation to the University of Oxford, which now has a library by the family name. He is also actively involved in other charities in the medical and education fields, especially in India, the U.S., and U.K. Rt. Hon. Theresa May MP of the U.K. also awarded Choudhrie the Asian Business Lifetime Achievement Award in 2013.
Legacy & Book
Choudhrie wrote a book, entitled “From My Heart: A Tale of Life, Love, and Destiny,” which became an international bestseller on Amazon. It is primarily about his transplant experience and his life afterwards. The central theme of the book is that a transplant is the beginning of your life rather than the end. Choudhrie has met many transplant recipients who have inspired him with their breathtaking ambition and attitude, specifically mentioning “a woman who ran a marathon after transplant surgery.” However, he also says that he has “met people who threw away the opportunities they were given by the surgery by adopting a negative, pessimistic attitude.”
Another theme in Choudhrie’s book is the need for a healthy lifestyle to make the most of a transplant. He writes that adopting a healthy diet is particularly important, as it extends the life of a transplanted heart and reduces the need for a second transplant. However, many transplant patients feel that any change is pointless, especially if they’ve been ill for a prolonged period. Choudhrie recalls one patient saying, “Why should I? I’m going to die anyway” when advised to give up junk food.
Choudhrie’s story is ultimately a message of hope and gratitude, as he continues to be surrounded and cherished by his loving family. He adds that he hopes it will inspire more people to become organ donors since a donor’s generosity has renewed his ambition to continue making the world a better place.