G Muniyappa, resident of Ramasandra village in Karnataka's Kolar district, is no ordinary man.
Muniyappa, 108, has outlived Indian novelist RK Narayan, Nobel Prize winning writer Samuel Beckett and Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev, all of whom were born in 1906, the year which saw San Francisco being brought to its knees by a killer earthquake, Naples getting devastated by the cataclysmic eruption of Mt Vesuvius and Hong Kong being hit by a tsunami.
But being witness to a century of upheavals is not the only thing that makes Muniyappa special. On February 15, he became the oldest person to undergo a successful angioplasty at St John's Medical College and Hospital, Bangalore. As per the available medical records, a 104-year-old man, who underwent angioplasty in Delhi in 2013, held the previous record.
Muniyappa was taken to St John's after he complained of chest pain and breathlessness. He had suffered a mild heart attack as well. An angiogram revealed he had 90% blockage in the left anterior descending coronary artery, which is the main artery of the heart, and about 80% blockage in the left circumflex coronary artery. The blocks were critical and life threatening, considering Muniyappa's age.
"It was only after detailed discussions with his children, we decided to go ahead with the angioplasty," said Dr Kiron Varghese, professor and head of cardiology department, St John's Medical College and Hospital.
The procedure was conducted by a team led by Varghese. "The case was complicated, and the age factor did not make things easier," said Varghese. "Money was a problem for the family. So we doctors tried to raise some funds. Later, one of his sons said he had medical insurance. After a few days of hospitalisation, we went ahead with the procedure. The patient is doing well. He is likely to be discharged in another two days."
Muniyappa has six children. His eldest daughter is 67. He has 12 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren. After converting to Christianity 25 years ago, Muniyappa gave up alcohol and tobacco products.
According to Krishnappa, a school teacher and Muniyappa's third son, his father starts his day 5am. "He begins by reading the Bible. He looks after the cattle and also does gardening. His eats ragi ball, rice, sambar and fruits, apart from milk, buttermilk and curd. All his peers are no more in the village," he said.