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2 women with birthdates in 1800s still alive

emma_morano_apIn this Friday, June 26, 2015 photo, Emma Morano, 115, looks at an old portrait of herself in her apartment in Verbania, Italy. Morano and Susannah Mushatt Jones, also 115, of the Brooklyn borough of New York, are believed to be the last two people in the world with birthdates in the 1800s. (AP Photo/Antonio Calanni)

When Susannah Mushatt Jones and Emma Morano were born in 1899, there was not yet world war or penicillin, and electricity was still considered a marvel. The women are believed to be the last two in the world with birthdates in the 1800s.

The world has multiplied and changed drastically in their lifetimes. They have seen war destroy landmarks and cities and have seen them rebuilt. They witnessed the Gilded Age, a term coined by Mark Twain, and the dawn of civil rights, the rise and fall of the fascists and Benito Mussolini, the first polio vaccines and the first black president of the United States.

Jones, who lives in New York, currently tops a list of supercentenarians, or people who have lived past 110, which is maintained by Los Angeles-based Gerontology Research Group. The organization tracks and maintains a database of the world’s longest-living people. Morano, of Verbania, Italy, is just a few months younger than Jones and is Europe’s oldest person, according to the group. The group knows of no others born in the 1800s.

Emma Morano

Born: Nov. 29, 1899

Verbania, Italy

Morano has lived on her own ever since she left her husband in 1938 because he beat her. Now 115, she resides in a neat one-room apartment in Verbania, a mountain town overlooking Lake Major in northwest Italy. She is cared for by her village: The mayor gave her a TV set, her niece stops in twice a day and her adoring physician of more than 25 years checks up on her regularly.

Morano attributes her longevity to her unusual diet: Three raw eggs a day (now two raw eggs and 150 grams of raw steak after a bout of anemia) – a diet she’s been on for decades after a sickly childhood.

“My father brought me to the doctor, and when he saw me he said, `Such a beautiful girl. If you had come just two days later, I would have not been able to save you.’ He told me to eat two or three eggs a day, so I eat two eggs a day.”

Her physician today, Dr. Carlo Bava, is convinced there’s a genetic component as well.

“From a strictly medical and scientific point of view, she can be considered a phenomenon,” he said, noting that Morano takes no medication and has been in stable, good health for years.

Italy is known for its centenarians – many of whom live in Sardinia – and gerontologists at the University of Milan are studying Morano, along with a handful of Italians over age 105, to try to figure out why they live so long.

“Emma seems to go against everything that could be considered the guidelines for correct nutrition: She has always eaten what she wants, with a diet that is absolutely repetitive,” Bava said. “For years, she has eaten the same thing every day, not much vegetables or fruit. But she’s gotten this far.”

Morano’s sister, whom Bava cared for as well, died at 97. On a recent visit, Morano was in feisty spirits, displaying the sharp wit and fine voice that used to stop men in their tracks.



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