Emma Mo­rano: World’s old­est per­son and great lover of eggs

Last known per­son alive to have be born in the 19th cen­tury

Kuwait Times - - HEALTH & SCIENCE -

In one month it will be Emma Mo­rano’s birth­day. Though she hasn’t in­vited any­one, peo­ple from around the world are still likely to turn up to cel­e­brate with the last known per­son alive to have been born in the 19th cen­tury. “I’m 116 years and on 27 Novem­ber, I’ll be 117,” this alert and chatty lady tells AFP in her room in Verbania, a town in north­ern Italy on Lake Mag­giore.

On a mar­ble-topped chest of draw­ers stands proudly the Guin­ness World Records cer­tifi­cate declar­ing Mo­rano, born in 1899, to be the world’s old­est liv­ing per­son. There is also a pho­to­graph of her and her doc­tor Carlo Bava hold­ing eggs: the se­cret to her long life ap­pears to lie in es­chew­ing all re­ceived med­i­cal wis­dom. “I eat two eggs a day, and that’s it. And cook­ies. But I do not eat much be­cause I have no teeth,” she says.

The egg habit dates from when she was di­ag­nosed with anaemia at 20 in the wake of World War I and a doc­tor ad­vised her to eat three a day, two raw and one cooked. She main­tained that regime for 90 years and is be­lieved to have eaten over 100,000 eggs and count­ing. “Emma has al­ways eaten very few vegeta­bles, very lit­tle fruit. When I met her, she ate three eggs per day, two raw in the morn­ing and then an omelette at noon, and chicken at din­ner,” said Bava, who has been her doc­tor for the past 27 years. Now she lives mostly on bis­cuits “and does not want to eat meat be­cause she doesn’t like it any­more and some­one told her it causes can­cer,” he said. Mo­rano is not even sure she’ll have a slice of her birth­day cake, say­ing “the last time I ate a lit­tle, but then I did not feel good”.

A ‘pre­car­i­ous equi­lib­rium’

She may still be some way off the pre­vi­ous record, held by France’s Jeanne Cal­ment who lived to be 122, but Mo­rano, the el­dest of eight chil­dren who has out­lived all her younger sib­lings, knows turn­ing 117 will be an event to cel­e­brate. “Peo­ple come. I don’t in­vite any­body but they come. From Amer­ica, Switzer­land, Aus­tria, Turin, Mi­lan... They come from all over to see me,” she says with an amused smile. Birthdays aside, Mo­rano is a soli­tary per­son. Hav­ing left her vi­o­lent hus­band in 1938 shortly af­ter the death in in­fancy of her only son, she lived alone, work­ing in a fac­tory pro­duc­ing jute sacks to sup­port her­self.

She clung to her in­de­pen­dence, only tak­ing on a full-time care­giver last year, though she has not left her small two-room apart­ment for 20 years, and has been bed-bound for the last year. While her mind is alert, she is very deaf, speaks with dif­fi­culty and does not see well enough to watch tele­vi­sion, spend­ing her time in­stead ei­ther sleep­ing or snack­ing.

Bava puts her longevity party down to ge­net­ics-Mo­rano’s mother died at 91 and at least two of her sis­ters lived to be over 100 — but said hav­ing a daily rou­tine and her great strength of char­ac­ter had also likely played their parts. “She is a very de­ter­mined per­son. She has never wanted to go to hos­pi­tal, she’s never re­ceived any par­tic­u­lar (health) care. She’s suf­fered from a bit of bron­chi­tis, had a (blood) trans­fu­sion, and some stitches, but al­ways at home.”

“Now she’s well, she’s very well, but it’s clear she lives ev­ery day in a very, very pre­car­i­ous equi­lib­rium,” he said. Bava ad­mits he feels a bit like “the keeper of the Tower of Pisa, which has been lean­ing for cen­turies. The day it top­ples over, some­one will be held re­spon­si­ble. “When Emma dies, peo­ple will hold me ac­count­able”. —AFP

VERBANIA: Emma Mo­rano poses next to a pic­ture de­pict­ing her when she was young. —AP

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