Sudhir Choudhrie on Recognizing the Small Blessings in Life
Sudhir Choudhrie is an Indian-born entrepreneur and philanthropist currently based in London. His primary interests include aviation, healthcare and hospitality. He is well known for his collection of rare vintage cars which is considered the largest car collection in India. He also has first-hand knowledge of significant hardship = having lived with a defective heart, which profoundly affected his life and those around him. His experiences in life have shaped his greater appreciation for his family, personal relationships and life as a whole.
The hardship that Mr. Choudhrie’s future was to endure was first noticed, when his mother decided to take out an insurance policy for him when he was eight, which required a complete medical exam. The results of that visit showed that Choudhrie had a leaking heart valve, causing his heart to skip beats. The condition was serious and by 1996, the cumulative damage to his heart began to reach a critical point, resulting in two heart failures over the next three years.
As a result of the same genetic condition, Choudhrie’s brother Rajiv also suffered from serious heart problems. In From the Heart, Mr. Choudhrie’s book – Sudhir explains the two brothers found themselves worrying more about the other, causing them to neglect their own health. Rajiv’s condition was sadly slightly more advanced, and he died in 1997 while waiting for a compatible heart to become available. While it has now been 24 years since his brother’s death, Choudhrie still lives with this pain as much as he did when it happened, and according to his book believes it to be the reason his own heart reached its breaking point in 1998.
Choudhrie’s Transplant and Recovery
By 1999, both sides of Choudhrie’s heart were failing and the pressure inside his lungs was extremely high, while the pressure in the rest of his body was quite low – a dangerous combination. Choudhrie was within a few hours of dying when a heart finally became available in 1999 when a 20-year-old man who was registered as a donor passed away.
The operation was successful and Choudhrie is currently one of the longest-surviving heart transplant patients in the world.
The Titin Gene
The congenital heart defect of both Choudhrie and his brother was due to a genetic mutation, which became increasingly relevant to other members of his family. This mutation is known as the titin gene, which carries a strong risk of coronary heart disease. The British Heart Foundation estimates that 620,000 people in the United Kingdom have this gene. The titin gene doesn’t guarantee that carriers will develop heart disease, but it increases its likelihood.
All of Choudhrie’s children have been tested for the titin gene as a matter of routine. His youngest son Dhairya was tested in 2014, which showed that he also has this mutation. Dhairya is following a healthier diet by avoiding saturated fats and only eating red meat once per week. Dhairya feels fortunate to have found out about his condition at the age of 32, which is considerably younger than Sudhir was when he learnt of his genetic propensity for developing a heart condition. Dhairya was also adamant that his father should tell his story as an object lesson in living your life with a positive outlook regardless of your personal circumstances.
Told from the Heart: A Tale of Love, Life and Destiny
Choudhrie published an autobiography in 2017 entitled ‘From the Heart: A Tale of Love, Life and Destiny.’ It covers his early life, heart condition and experiences as a heart transplant patient. This book became a best-selling international title on Amazon within the first week of its release. The main theme of Choudhrie’s book is that there is life after an operation, even a major one like a heart transplant.
Choudhrie spoke with other transplant recipients while conducting the research for his book. Many of these people inspired him with their breathtaking ambition and attitude, including one woman who ran a marathon after her operation. On the other hand, Choudhrie has also met people who have thrown away the opportunity they’ve been given by adopting a negative attitude. For example, he once shared his experiences with six other patients who felt they didn’t need to make any changes regarding their health because they didn’t expect to live very long. One patient in particular refused to give up junk food, saying ‘Why should I? I’m going to die anyway.’
Lessons to Be Learned
Choudhrie’s message is that everyone will pass one day, but transplant patients have a good chance of a successful outcome. He also emphasizes the benefits of a loving family that cherishes the patient in achieving this goal. A heart will continue beating if it has a reason to do so, which is why Choudhrie wants to inspire more people to become organ donors. He adds that the family of his donor must have been devastated by their loss but were able to rise above that grief when they approved the donation that would save Choudhrie’s life. He also says that his new heart swells with the emotion of this thought. Choudhrie’s routine has changed significantly since his operation, primarily because he now prioritizes the time he spends with his loved ones.
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