World’s oldest known person dies at 118

By MDLinx staff
Published January 19, 2023

Key Takeaways

  • Sister André, born Lucile Randon and known as the world’s oldest known person, has died January 17 at age 118.

  • She lived through the 1918 Spanish Influenza outbreak, and recently became the world’s oldest COVID-19 survivor.

  • During her long and full life, Sister Andre cared for children during World War II and went on to care for orphans and the elderly.

Sister André, who held the title of the world’s oldest known person, died on January 17 at the age of 118—sixteen days shy of her 119th birthday.

Born Lucile Randon in France in 1904, she spent most of her adult life in religious service as a Catholic nun, according to a statement issued by the Guiness Book of World records in April 2022.[]

Early life

Before becoming a nun, Sister André looked after children during World War II. After the war, she went on to work at a hospital where she cared for orphans and the elderly.

“In her birth home of France, Cezanne was still painting, Matisse hadn't yet had a solo exhibition, and Jean-Paul Sartre hadn't even been born,” wrote Guinness World Records editor-in-chief Craig Glenday. “It's difficult to fathom that someone born before the patenting of plastic, [zippers], or even bras was alive well into the 21st century, and robust enough to beat COVID-19.”[]

In addition to her being the oldest known living person, Sister André was recorded as the second-oldest French person and the second-oldest European person. She was just three years away from becoming the oldest person ever recorded—a record set by another French woman, Jeanne Louise Calment, who died at the age of 122 in 1997.[]

COVID-19 survivor

Almost 100 years after living through the Spanish Flu pandemic, Sister André also nabbed the title of oldest living COVID-19 survivor. After testing positive in January 2021, she was isolated in her retirement home. The only symptom she was said to experience was “a little tiredness.”[] 

Sister André reigned as the world’s oldest person since April 2022 with the passing of Kane Tanaka of Japan.  

According to the Gerontology Research Group, Maria Branyas Morera is considered the world’s oldest person after the passing of Sister André. Ms. Morera, who was born in San Francisco and who now resides in Spain, also recovered from COVID-19 in March 2020.[] 


While the total number of centenarians is uncertain, there are an estimated 573,000 living in the world today, according to the United Nations. In 2000, that number was estimated to be around 151,000.[]

When a person reaches the age of 110 years, they are considered supercentenarians—a feat that is seemingly becoming more common, although still rare. The odds of living to 110 is about 2 in 100,000 for women, and 2 in 1,000,000 for men.

In 2018, Italian researchers studied nearly 4,000 Italian residents aged 105 and older, and found that their odds for survival plateaued at age 105. Specifically, those people between the ages of 105 and 109 had a 50% chance of dying within the year, and an expected further lifespan of about 1.5 years.[]

“Our data tell us that there is no fixed limit to the human lifespan yet in sight,” said study senior author Kenneth Wachter, a UC Berkeley professor emeritus of demography and statistics. “Not only do we see mortality rates that stop getting worse with age, we see them getting slightly better over time.”

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