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World's Oldest Person Celebrates 117th Birthday

  • VOA News

Emma Morano, 117 years old, blows out the candles on her birthday cake in Verbania, Italy, Nov. 29, 2016.

Emma Morano, the oldest person in the world and the last known survivor of the 19th century, celebrated her 117th birthday Tuesday at her home in Italy.

Beaming at the attention, Morano took in the festivities for her milestone celebration sitting in an armchair in her tiny apartment in the northern town of Verbania, on the Piedmont shore of Lake Maggiore.

Her doctor, Carlo Bava, said she was very aware of all the fuss being made about her latest milestone. "She is very lucid, very present," he said.

"She was very happy and honored to get a telegram of congratulations this morning from President [Sergio] Mattarella," Bava added. "There was a television crew there and she got flowers. She had dressed up and she was very proud. She posed for a photographer, and even asked if her hair looked good."

In earlier interviews, Morano credited her longevity to being single and eating three eggs — two raw — every day for more than 90 years.

It was a regime she took up after a doctor diagnosed her with anemia shortly after World War I.

These days, she has cut down to two eggs a day, and a few cookies.

Morano was briefly married to a reportedly abusive man but kicked him out in 1938, the year after her baby boy died at six months old. She has remained alone since.

"I didn't want to be dominated by anyone," she told The New York Times.

Morano was the oldest of eight siblings, all of whom she has outlived.