Angelina Friedman was born in 1918 on a passenger ship that was bringing immigrants from Italy to New York City during the second wave of the Spanish flu pandemic. The almost-102-year-old also contracted coronavirus and survived.
“Her mother died giving birth on the ship, and she was taken care of by her two sisters, who were also on board,” Joanne Merola, Friedman’s daughter, told WPIX. Friedman and her sister later reunited with their father who was already living in Brooklyn.
Around 50 million people died from the Spanish flu, which infected roughly a third of the world’s population, according to the World Health Organization.
During her life, Friedman also survived miscarriages, cancer, sepsis, and COVID-19. She’s outlived her husband and 10 siblings.
“Everybody in the family lived until at least 95, except one uncle,” Merola said. “My mother is a survivor. She is not human. She has superhuman DNA.”
Friedman lives at the North Westchester Restorative Therapy and Nursing Center in Lake Mohegan, New York. She was diagnosed with coronavirus after going to the hospital on March 21 for a minor medical procedure. She stayed in the hospital for a week before going back to her nursing facility, where she self-quarantined in her room. After feeling feverish for several weeks, Friedman tested negative for the virus on April 20.
Unfortunately, because she’s deaf—and because Merola has had back trouble—the mother and daughter haven’t been able to see each other or talk since February.
“[The nurses] tell me she’s doing great. She’s up and about as much as possible. She’s looking for wool to crochet with,” Merola said. "If my mother could see this, I’d tell her, ‘You keep going, Ma. You’re gonna outlive us all.’”