Devi Prasad Shetty, MS, FRCS, (born 8 May 1953) is an Indian cardiac surgeon and entrepreneur. He is the chairman and founder of Narayana Health, a chain of 21 medical centers in India. He has performed more than 15,000 heart operations. In 2004 he was awarded the Padma Shri, the fourth highest civilian award, followed by the Padma Bhushan in 2012, the third highest civilian award by the Government of India for his contribution to the field of affordable healthcare.
Shetty was born in a village in the Dakshina Kannada district, Karnataka, India. The eighth of nine children, he decided to become a heart surgeon when he was a school student after hearing about Christiaan Barnard, a South African surgeon who had just performed the world’s first heart transplant.
He was educated at St. Aloysius School, Mangalore and at the St. Aloysius College, Mangaluru He completed his MBBS in 1979, and post-graduate work in General Surgery from Kasturba Medical College, Mangalore. Later he completed FRCS from Royal College of Surgeons, England.
He returned to India in 1989 and initially worked at B.M. Birla Hospital in Kolkata. He successfully performed the first neonatal heart surgery in the country in 1989, on a 9-day-old baby. In Kolkata he operated on Mother Teresa after she had a heart attack, and subsequently served as her personal physician. After some time, he moved to Bangalore and started the Manipal Heart Foundation at Manipal Hospitals, Bangalore. Financial contribution for the construction of the hospital was provided by Shetty’s father-in-law.
In 2001, Shetty founded Narayana Hrudayalaya (NH), a multi-specialty hospital in Bommasandra on the outskirts of Bangalore. He believes that the cost of healthcare can be reduced by 50 percent in the next 5–10 years if hospitals adopt the idea of economies of scale. Apart from cardiac surgery, NH also has cardiology, neurosurgery, paediatric surgery, haematology and transplant services, and nephrology among various others. The heart hospital is the largest in the world with 1000 beds performing over 30 major heart surgeries a day. The land on which the health city was built, was previously a marshland which was reclaimed for this purpose. The Health City intends to cater to about 15,000 outpatients every day. In August 2012 Shetty announced an agreement with TriMedx, a subsidiary of Ascension Health, to create a joint venture for a chain of hospitals in India. In the past Narayana Hrudayalaya has collaborated with Ascension Health to set up a health care city in the Cayman Islands, planned to eventually have 2,000 beds.
Shetty also founded Rabindranath Tagore International Institute of Cardiac Sciences (RTIICS) in Kolkata, and signed a memorandum of understanding with the Karnataka Government to build 5,000-bed specialty hospital near Bangalore International Airport. His company signed a MOU with the Government of Gujarat, to set up a 5,000-bed hospital at Ahmedabad.
He was elected as the chief patron of Indian Association of Clinical Cardiologists (IACCCON) during the 2013 annual scientific session at Bangalore.
He was a part of the seven-member panel of Board of Governors which replaced the MCI and served for a period of one year before it was further reconstituted.
Low cost health care
Shetty aims for his hospitals to use economies of scale, to allow them to complete heart surgeries at a lower cost than in the United States. In 2009 the Wall Street Journal newspaper described him as “the Henry Ford of heart surgery”. Six additional hospitals were subsequently planned on the Narayana Hrudayalaya model at several cities in India, with plans to expand to 30,000 beds with hospitals in India, Africa and other countries in Asia. Shetty aims to trim costs with such measures as buying cheaper scrubs and using cross ventilation instead of air conditioning. That has cut the price of coronary bypass surgery to 95,000 rupees ($1,583), half of what it was 20 years ago. In 2013 he aimed to get the price down to $800 within a decade. The same procedure costs $106,385 at Ohio’s Cleveland Clinic. He has also eliminated many pre-ops testing and innovated in patient care such as “drafting and training patients’ family members to administer after-surgical care”. Surgeons in his hospitals perform 30 to 35 surgeries a day compared to one or two in a US hospital. His hospitals also provide substantial free care especially for poor children. He performs free surgery for the poor. In many parts of rural northern India, the poor refer to Dr. Shetty as Bypasswale Baba, i.e. the Saint who Grants Bypasses. Also very much like the saints of yore, no one who dreams of a bypass and comes to his hospital/ashram leaves without a bypass.
Shetty and his family have a 75 percent stake in Narayana Hrudayalaya which he plans to preserve. Shetty has also pioneered low-cost diagnostic services.
Yeshasvini is a low-cost health insurance scheme, designed by Shetty and the Government of Karnataka for the poor farmers of the state, with 4 million people currently covered.
Awards and recognition
- Padma Bhushanaward for Medicine in 2012
- Karnataka Ratna awardin 2001
- Entrepreneur of the Year at ET awardsin 2012
- Won the 2011 The EconomistInnovation Awards for the Business process
- Honorary Degree, University of Minnesotain 2011
- Honorary Degree, Indian Institute of Technology Madrasin 2014
- Schwab Foundation’s awardin 2005
- Padma Shriaward for Medicine in 2004
- B C Roy awardin 2003
- Sir M. Visvesvaraya Memorial Award in 2003
- Ernst & Young– Entrepreneur Of The Year – Life Sciences in 2012
- Ernst & Young– Entrepreneur of the Year – Start-up in 2003
- Rajyotsava award in 2002
- Indian of the year in public sector choose by CNN-IBNfor 2012
Shetty stars in the fourth (and last) episode of Netflix‘s docuseries The Surgeon’s Cut, which was released globally on 9 December 2020. The episode follows Shetty’s treatment of patients, mostly children and babies, prioritizing low-cost and affordable healthcare, while performing with his team more than thirty surgeries a day.