101-year-old retired nurse has survived COVID-19 and 1918 flu pandemic

Woodruff Health Sciences Center | May 27, 2020

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ATLANTA – Dora Sowell was just three months old when she contracted the Spanish flu in 1918, and many times throughout her life she has recounted how she and her mother spent weeks in insolation recovering during the 1918 pandemic.

But now the 101-year-old resident of the Emory Healthcare skilled nursing center Budd Terrace at Wesley Woods has a new tale of surviving a pandemic. Last month, she tested positive for COVID-19.

“The fact that I came out positive was just unbelievable, that I should have had these two positives a hundred years apart,” Sowell says.

For the second time in her life, Sowell had to spend time in isolation as she recovered from COVID-19. Fortunately, she experienced only mild symptoms during her recent illness.

Sowell, a retired nurse, was happy to return to her normal hobbies, including sodoku puzzles, listening to classical music and reading. She says the secret to a long life is "never eat too much, take a nap in the afternoon and have a glass of sherry every night."

She was profiled in 2018 in Chattanooga Times Free Press for an article about the Spanish flu pandemic.