Jose Aguinelo dos Santos has papers that say his is the world’s oldest human being, and possibly the oldest human being ever to have lived. The Brazilian man has been residing in a home for the elderly since 1973, and if records are accurate, on Monday of last week, July 7, dos Santos celebrated turning age 126.
If his birth certificate is accurate, dos Santos beats out the woman believed by the Gerontology Research Group to the world’s oldest human, Japan’s Masao Okawa, by almost 10 years. As reported in The Inquisitr earlier, the oldest living American is believed to be Gertrude Weaver, also 116, but days younger than Okawa.
The oldest person whose age has ever been verified by official documentation was a French woman, Jeanne Calment, who passed away in 1997 at the age of 122.
Amazingly, doctors at the Vila Vicentina home in Bauru, Brazil, say that dos Santos has no significant health issues and is one of the home’s “more with-it residents.” He shows no signs of high cholesterol, diabetes or high blood pressure, they say, and he takes no regular medications other than his daily vitamins.
He walks without a cane, and performs most of his own daily tasks. He does need help bathing, but that’s a minor detail because dos Santos usually refuses to take a bath.
“When he puts his foot down, that’s it. No-one can get him in there,” said Mariana Silva, a psychologist at the home, speaking to Britain’s Daily Mirror.
Oh yeah, he also smokes a pack a day, and has for 50 years. Of course, that means he didn’t take up the nasty habit until he was about 75.
Cesar Siqueria, a vice-president of the old folks home where the possible world’s oldest man resides, says that 126 is dos Santos “presumed age,” which was arrived at by a judge in 2001, based on interviews with the former coffee plantation worker who, he said, was born the son of former slaves in 1888. That was only two years after Brazil abolished slavery, becoming the last of the slave trade countries to do so.
All of the original records that could prove dos Santos age have long since been lost, but Siqueria says the home is still researching old public archives to find any record of the man’s life. He also hopes to perform a Carbon-14 test, which would determine dos Santos’s age scientifically. But that test is too expensive right now.
What’s his secret? Dos Santos says he doesn’t have one.
“The truth is that you just keep getting older. You take each stage at a time,” he says. “If I got to this age it’s because I’ve lived a lot, that’s all.”
Born when Brazil was still under the rule of an emperor, dos Santos was already 26 at the start of World War I. He was 52 when Brazilian soccer legend Pele was born, and 75 when U.S. President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. When dos Santos turned 100, Ronald Reagan was still president of the United States.
The atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, when dos Santos was 57, and he was 89 when Apple introduced its first personal computer. The Wright Brothers first flew when dos Santos was 15 and man landed on the moon when dos Santos was 81.
But Jose Aguinelo dos Santos never married or had children, and at this point, cannot recall his mother’s name.