A census in Kazakhstan has reportedly uncovered a woman named Sakhan Dosova who has just turned 130 years old! If confirmed, Dosova would be an incredible 15 years older than Gertrude Baines, an American woman who is just days away from turning 115 and currently holds the title as the world's oldest confirmed living person. Dosova would also shatter the record set by Jeanne Calment, whose 122 year lifespan is the longest documented lifespan beyond reasonable doubt.
So is it really true then? It may be impossible to tell for certain, but there are some compelling clues. Sakhan Dosova’s passport states that she was born in 1879 — the year Edison invented the lightbulb and Stalin and Einstein were born. Demographers were astonished to find that she was also on Stalin's first census of the region in 1926 when her age was given as 47. An image (from the Daily Mail) of Dosova's Kasakh identity card with a birth date of March 27, 1879 is shown below:
Regardless of her exact age, Dosova is almost undoubtedly part of an exclusive club of individuals known as supercentenarians. According to Wikipedia, these individuals have reached the age of 110 years or more, something achieved by only one in a thousand centenarians (based on European data). Furthermore, only 2% of supercentenarians live to be 115. As human health and medicine continue to improve it will be interesting to see what many in the singularity community expect will be an explosion of individuals reaching supercentenarian status.
At the time of one of our earlier stories, Edna Parker was the oldest person in the world at age 115, but she has since passed away in Nov 2008. A woman named Mariam Amash in Israel claims to be about 120 years old, but similar to the case of Sakhan Dosova, it may be impossible to prove.
Many may question whether it is possible to use medical forensics to verify the age of a person. According to a Scientific American interview with Jay Olshansky, and expert on the topic, and answer is "no". An excerpt below:
Question: Can you scientifically prove someone's age?
Answer: No, you can't. Researchers have been looking for biomarkers of age for a long time and have failed. People sell tests out there to measure your biological age and none of them work. There's no evidence that you can measure biological age with any reliability.
According to RFE/RL, "Dosova lives in a small town of Prishakhtinsk, in central Kazakhstan, has 11 children and 37 grandchildren and great grandchildren.
Will Stewart from the Daily Mail has the best reports we have found on this story. A few choice exerpts below:
While some Kazakh officials are pressing for more detailed checks on her claim, fearing the country could face ridicule if it is shown to be false, she has no doubts and is basking in her new found fame.
'I don't have any special secret,' she said. 'I've never taken pills and if I was ill, I used granny's remedies to cure me.
'I have never eaten sweets, I don't like them. But I love kurt (a salty dried cottage cheese) and talkan (ground wheat).'
The old woman lives in poor conditions in an overcrowded flat with one of her granddaughters, though she is said to be in good health apart from some problems with her hearing.
Some Kazakh bureaucrats want more checks to be done to ascertain the accuracy of her claim, pointing out that birth records in Kazakhstan in the 19th century are notoriously unreliable.
'We can see that this is turning into a big story and for the sake of our country, we need to be sure her claim is correct,' said one official.
'There is no doubt she is very old. But is she really 130? Or was there a white lie long ago which was never corrected? We need to find out.'