'The Surgeon's Cut' Episode 4: Who is Dr Devi Shetty? Here's how Mother Teresa changed the cardiac surgeon's life
'In every life, I want to be a heart surgeon. That's all I want to do, nothing else,' said Dr Devi Shetty
Spoilers for 'The Surgeon's Cut'
Dr Devi Shetty, a renowned cardiac surgeon, is also the founder of India’s Narayana Health Bangalore, one of the largest medical centers in the world. 'Heart & Soul' takes us into the foundation that he has built for the future generation of India's greats, and how he started on this path to humble greatness. "Surgery is an art, and all surgeons are artists. Whatever we do in the end should look beautiful, if it looks beautiful, it always works," says Dr Devi at the start of his episode, followed by him revealing that though he's under pressure he believes that surgeons need to be "supremely confident" about their skill - working on the "center of the universe" (as he calls it), the heart is no joke.
'Heart & Soul' takes us through patients of Dr Devi's and their struggles include Paul's Pulmonary Endarterectomy Surgery and baby Sankalpa hole in the heart surgery. Both extensive surgeries, both dangerous and yet both successful. Paul's surgery involves clearing all of his blood clots with is a complicated operation but Dr Devi reveals, "There are less than 50 heart surgeons in the world who have done more than 100 or 200 of these operations. I have done more than 600 which is considered as one of the largest experiences in the world." That knowledge, he says, comes from "years of passionate work."
Dr Devi is the eighth of nine kids, who had what he calls a happy childhood but also reveals how the appreciation of doctors came to be. Explaining, he revealed, that when his mother was sick, he was too young to comprehend what the problem was. All he knew was that a doctor could save his mothers' life. "In our life, doctors became like a God," he said. Loved by many of his patients, we see how the cardiac surgeon carries on his work with great humility and pride. "One look at the heart, I know how exactly the heart is functioning, what is the problem and what needs to be done. This is a secret language between the heart and the heart surgeon," he said as he speaks of all the monitors and gadgets around him in the OR. As a heart surgeon he said, he feels that he is an "instrument in the hands of God."
Interestingly enough, Shaku Shetty, Dr Devi's wife, also revealed that back then, when he was courting her, he was already quite famous. He was a brown belt in karate, a bodybuilder and even modeled. It seems as though cardiac surgery 100% topped that list. Dr Devi had moved to England three months after getting married where he worked with Mr Philip Deverall, a consultant heart surgeon. There he was determined to do hands-on work even though at times he was "told off" and eventually became a person that Mr Philip trusted as his right-hand man.
As a medical student, Dr Devi said he did "everything other than studies" but once he got into cardiac surgery, "everything changed". "I just wanted to spend all my time with the heart," he said in the episode. His hospital in Bangalore is the culmination of his life's' work, dreams, and ambition, he said. "It is a temple where sick people are taken care of." The hospital is created to do 100 heart surgeries every day and now the surgeon is in a position where he doesn't have to turn a patient away because they have no money.
The cardiac surgeon moved back to India when he was given a new position at a heart hospital in Kolkata along with the "total freedom to build a center of excellence in cardiac surgery." He spent his time getting to his community, speaking of how their loved ones can be operated on, and did his level best to expand knowledge in rural India. But what makes his story even more awe-inspiring was how late Mother Teresa changed his life. As he was working one day, he received a call which his anesthetist ended up picking up. The person on the other line had asked if Dr Devi could do a home visit, to which Dr Devi had said he was a cardiac surgeon, he doesn't do home visits. The person on the other line told the anesthetist that if Dr Devi does do the home visit, it would maybe change his life.
When he made the home visit, he realized that it was the home of Saint Mother Teresa. "I took care of Mother Teresa during her last four years of her life," revealed Dr Devi. The late saint had heart problems and was admitted to the hospital that Dr Devi worked at about three to four times. "Even though she was born with flesh and blood like us, she was different. In her presence, I truly felt the presence of the divine. The impact she had on my life completely changed my approach towards my profession, my family and society."
In the episode, he shows the audience the room in which Mother Teresa was treated, saying the saint would accompany him in his rounds at the pediatric ICU when she got better. What hits a heart nerve with emotion, even more, was when Mother Teresa explained to Dr Devi why he was here. "Dr Shetty I know why you're here. When God creates these kids with the hole in the heart, he realized there was a problem and wanted someone to fix it and that's the reason why he sent you." That, Dr Devi, said was the best definition of a pediatric cardiac surgeon he had heard. "In every life, I want to be a heart surgeon. That's all I want to do, nothing else," said Dr Devi Shetty
'The Surgeon's Cut' is now available to stream on Netflix.