In 1999, Indian entrepreneur Sudhir Choudhrie was losing his battle with a hereditary heart condition that had already claimed his brother. Choudhrie’s heart was literally on its last beats. He had collapsed twice in the last month and found himself at Columbia University Medical Center in dire need of a heart transplant. Through a combination of good luck, grace and the skill of his physicians, Choudhrie got the heart he needed and has thrived in the two decades since his surgery. He says he feels younger now than he did then, and he is grateful to the grieving family who donated the heart of their loved one. Says Choudhrie of the experience, “The hearts belonging to the family of my donor must have been shattered by their loss and yet they rose above their grief to say yes to the procedure that gave me life. My heart, my new heart, swells with a profound emotion at that thought.”
The business of giving back
Since his brush with death, Choudhrie has made it his life’s work to give back to those who helped him and to fund research and programs for those who suffer from similar heart conditions. In 2010, Choudhrie, his wife and two sons formed the Choudhrie Family Foundation with the mission to “support the advancement of medical science, funding research into the causes of genetic cardiovascular disease and the search for a cure, supporting life-saving organ donor campaigns and educational initiatives that add to public understanding. “To date, the Foundation has given $2.5 million to establish the Sudhir Choudhrie Professorship of Cardiology at Columbia University Medical Center as well as funds to create the Choudhrie Family Student Lounge, a dedicated center within the University’s new Roy and Diana Vagelos Education Center where medical students can relax and get away briefly from their studies and health care responsibilities.”
In the UK, where the Choudhrie’s have lived for more than a decade, the Choudhrie family support a number of charities, including Sightsavers, a global charity foundation that helps the visually impaired, and Path to Success, a UK-based charity that works to help the homeless and promote educational opportunities and provide assistance for disabled people. The Choudhrie Family Foundation has also supported the development of a new library at Green Templeton College, a part of Oxford University in the UK. The facility features two reading rooms, a 21st century library service, seminar space, a work room for fellows and a theater. Said Choudhrie of the project at the ribbon-cutting ceremony, “Green Templeton is renowned for its academic excellence. We are proud to be associated with the College, and especially honoured that this new facility will bear the Choudhrie name.”
In 2016, Choudhrie decided that the story of his struggle with heart disease and his subsequent heart transplant could be inspirational to other heart patients and their families. With that in mind, he penned “From My Heart: A Tale of Life, Love and Destiny,” a memoir about his personal heart transplant journey. The US proceeds from the 288-page book, which was a bestseller on Amazon in its first week of publication all go to the Choudhrie Family Foundation, where the money can help others with the same or similar disease.
Sudhir Choudhrie grew up in India, the grandson of a prominent Delhi real estate developer. Instead of entering the family business, he chose instead to forge his own path. After graduating from the University of Delhi, Choudhrie worked as an exporter of consumer goods, eventually founding Magnum International Trading Company Ltd in 1975. This was to be just the first of many companies Choudhrie would start. At the time of his heart surgery, Choudhrie was one of the wealthiest business leaders in India and had created numerous companies and thousands of jobs. From 1993 to 2004, Choudhrie served as Latvia’s Honorary Consul General to India.