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102-year-old New York woman survives second bout of COVID-19 after living through 1918 pandemic

Posted at 1:00 PM, Dec 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-01 13:00:09-05

MOHEGAN LAKE, N.Y. — Angelina Friedman, a 102-year-old nursing home resident, recently survived her second bout with COVID-19, according to her daughter Joanne Merola.

"Not only has she beaten COVID at 101, she's beaten it at 102," Merola said.

Friedman also has the unique distinction of living through two global pandemics.

During the 1918 pandemic, Angelina Sciales was born on a passenger ship taking immigrants from Italy to New York City.

"She was born on a ship coming from Italy during the Spanish flu," Merola said earlier this year. "Her birthday was Oct. 18, 1918."

Angelina's mother died giving birth on the ship.

"She was helped by her two sisters," Merola said of her mother.

When Angelina's father reunited with his daughters in New York, he took them to live in Brooklyn.

"She was one of 11 children," Merola said. "She's the last one surviving."

Angelina eventually married a man named Harold Friedman. The couple battled cancer later in life, but only Angelina overcame the disease.

She's lost most of her hearing and her vision is bad, but she's retained her zest for life.

Friedman, a resident of the North Westchester Restorative Therapy and Nursing Center, battled COVID-19 most recently in October, according to her daughter.

Her first bout with the virus happened in March when she was taken to the hospital for a minor medical procedure.

When she initially tested positive for COVID-19, the procedure was postponed and Friedman spent a week in the hospital. She then returned to the nursing home and was isolated in her room.

After running a fever on and off for several weeks, Friedman finally tested negative for coronavirus on April 20.

At the time, Friedman's daughter received a late-night phone call from nurses. They said Friedman was doing great, that she was eating again and looking for yarn for crocheting.

"My mother is a survivor," Merola said in April. "She survived miscarriages, internal bleeding and cancer."

Six months after that first COVID-19 diagnosis, Friedman's daughter said she received a call from the nursing home in late October, "to tell me she tested positive again."

"She had symptoms — fever, a dry cough," Merola said. "...they gave her a bunch of meds. They thought she might also have the flu."

More staff and residents at the nursing home were getting sick, according to Merola, so the older residents were put in isolation.

Merola said she got daily updates on the situation, and on Nov. 17 she received great news.

"My invincible mother tested negative," she said.

After another test came back negative, Friedman was moved out of isolation and back into her regular room.

Merola said she attributes her mother's survival to "an iron will to live."

"She's not the oldest to survive COVID, but she may be the oldest to survive it twice," she said.

This story was originally published by Mary Murphy on WPIX in New York City.

Johns Hopkins Center for Systems Science and Engineering