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Emma Morano: World’s oldest person aged 117, died on Saturday

Goran Blazeski

Emma Morano, aged 117, died on Saturday. She was the world’s oldest person who was born in the 1800s and presumably, the last survivor of the 19th century.

Her physician, Dr. Carlo Bava, told The Associated Press by phone that Morano’s caretaker called him to say the woman had passed away Saturday afternoon at her home in Verbania, a town on Lake Maggiore in northern Italy.

The world had changed drastically since 1899 when Emma Morano was born. Morano’s life spanned for three centuries. She lived through the two World Wars and 90 separate Italian governments, witnessing many important scientific discoveries, including insulin, antibiotics, penicillin, television, the atomic bomb, cell phones, computers, the internet, etc.

Born in the Piedmont region of northern Italy on November 29th, 1899, Emma Morano was the eldest of eight children of Giovanni Morano and Matilde Bresciani. When she was a child, her family moved to Pallanza, on Lake Maggiore, where she lived for the rest of her life.

Morano in 1900

Morano in 1900

Her life changed completely in 1919 when she was 20 years old and was diagnosed with anemia. The doctor told Morano to eat raw eggs for her anemia and for the rest of her life she maintained the regime, ignoring the advice of many doctors who tried to warn her that eating three eggs a day is bad for her health. She outlived most of them.

Morano had a fiancé who was called to the front during the First World War. Unfortunately, he never came back. In 1926, she married a man named Giovanni Martinuzzi. Morano didn’t want to marry him, but he forced her. The couple had a son in 1937, but the baby died after just six months.

Emma Morano, 1920s

Emma Morano, 1920s

The marriage was not a happy one, and Martinuzzi often beat her, so shortly after the death of her only child, she decided to leave him. She later credited her longevity with having left her violent husband. Morano told the New York Times that she had plenty of suitors after that, but never chose another partner. “I didn’t want to be dominated by anyone,” she said.

Morano supported herself by working in a factory making jute bags and as a cook in a hotel. She didn’t retire until she was 75 years old.

Dr. Carlo Bava, who was her doctor for nearly a quarter of a century, told the Guardian that Morano rarely ate any vegetables or fruit. He said that when he met Morano, she ate three eggs a day, two raw in the morning, an omelet at noon, and chicken at dinner.

Morano in 1930

Morano in 1930

Apparently, genetics also played a role since she wasn’t the only person in her family that lived long. Her sister Angela Morano, died aged 102 and her mother died aged 91.

Read another story from us: Clare Hollingworth, a British war correspondent who broke the news of WWII, dies aged 105

Violet Brown from Jamaica, born on 10th March 1900, is now the oldest verified living person in the world. She is the last living former subject of Queen Victoria since she was born when Jamaica was a part of the British Empire.