August 19, 2005

Woman who may be the world's oldest has operation to restore eyesight


MINSK, Belarus (AP) - A 117-year-old woman who may be the world's oldest had an operation on Friday to restore her failing sight.

Hanna Barysevich, a former farm worker who lives in a house outside the Belarusian capital, Minsk, had a cataract removed and an artificial crystalline lens inserted under local anaesthetic during the operation offered without charge at a private clinic.

"Before I asked God to take me soon. Now I can wait a little longer," she joked.

Barysevich was born on May 5, 1888, in the village of Buda, 60 kilometers (37 miles) east of Minsk, according to her passport. Her parents were poor, landless peasants. She worked in a kolkhoz, or collective farm, until age 95, then moved to the house she shares with her 79-year-old daughter Nina.

The daughter said her mother has a good appetite, a tough character and very strong nerves.

Dutch woman Hendrikje van Andel-Schipper, 115, is listed by the Guinness Book of Records as the world's oldest person after the death last year of a 114-year-old Puerto Rican woman. Barysevich said she'd never thought of applying for the distinction.