Hannah Muthangato

103-Year Old Undergoes Successful Cataract Surgery!

Hannah Nditi Muthangato is a Kenyan woman who has been suffering from eye problems for some time. She had cataract surgery in 2013 that resulted in complications, and thus went to Laser Eye Centre in Nairobi early June to see Dr. Mukesh Joshi, who has been treating cataracts for decades now, where she got her left eye operated. In a normal eye, there is a transparent lens that serves to focus the light rays on the retina. When transparency of the lens is compromised, this is known as a cataract. Cataracts are part of the normal aging process; 90% of the people living in Africa will live long enough to develop cataracts.

This time though, was a different story than the usual patients Dr. Joshi treats. Hannah was a very unique patient, and the unique thing about her was that at the time of the visit, she was a centenarian! The surgery was a great success, and Hannah plans to return to have her right eye corrected too.

We spoke to her son, Gituro, to gain some insight into Hannah and her life, and the secret(s) to her longevity. She has been a farmer all her life, engaging in subsistence and rice farming. She is a very hard worker, and would sell extra farm produce, while also engaging in the buying and selling of fruits, arrowroot, cassava and sweet potatoes. She lived a simple, happy, rural lifestyle that was full of hard work, and ate mainly traditional food like bananas, maize, beans, arrowroot and potatoes, a diet she still follows to this date, in addition to rice which she also enjoys. She had an extremely active lifestyle as a farmer, derived from undertaking farm work, and walking long distances to and from the market to sell her extra farm produce.

Hannah was married at the age of 18, and was widowed in 2013. Her husband was similarly long-lived; at the time of his death, he was 112 years old. Hannah had 11 children between 1938 and 1964 (the third of whom died very young leaving behind no children). She also has 50 grandchildren from her 10 surviving children, 56 great-grandchildren, and 9 great-great-grandchildren. One of her daughters-in-law lives with Hannah to assist with her care, and she gets to see the rest of her family quite often.

It was indeed an inspiration to meet someone who has lived such a long, happy and fulfilled life, and to learn more about her!