If you think that age slows you down then you’ve obviously never met Alla Illyinichna Levushkina. She’s a surgeon at Ryazan City Hospital near Moscow, and despite being almost 90 – yes, you heard that correctly – she still performs 4 operations every day. 89-year-old Alla, who lives in a flat where she cares for her disabled nephew and her eight cats, has been a surgeon for a whopping 67 years, and although she’s already performed more than 10,000 operations, she has no intention of slowing down.
“Being a doctor isn’t just a profession but a lifestyle,” she told Lite FM when asked if she had any plans to retire.
“If I stopped working, who is going to perform the surgeries?” She’s thought to be the oldest surgeon still working in the world, but what’s the secret to her long life? “‘I didn’t find any secret to longevity,” she said. “I just eat everything, laugh a lot and cry a lot.”
The Russian still performs operations four days a week, from her vantage point perched atop a stool – to allow her the best possible view of her patients.
A Facebook post reveals that Alla, from Ryazan, southeast of Moscow, begins each day at 8am holding a clinic for her patients.
Three hours later, she heads to theatres at Hospital Number 11 in Ryazan to begin her day’s operating list.
There an assistant helps her up on to a small platform to give her a better view of her patient on the operating table.
Over the course of her 67-year career Alla has performed more than 10,000 surgeries.
However, medicine isn’t always where she saw her career going – she originally wanted to be a geologist, reports Russian newspaper Kommersant.
But she was inspired to become a surgeon after reading a novel about doctors and went on to study at the Moscow Medical Institute.
She told the newspaper that, at the the time, there was fierce competition to get a place at the institute but that only made her more determined.
Alla chose to specialise in proctology, a field of medicine that deals with bowel and rectal problems.
She said at the time you could count all the proctologists in Russia on one hand and no one wanted to handle that part of the body because it was too messy, but that was no deterrent for her.
Reflecting on how tough it was to survive in medical school, she told Kommersant: “Once a month the medical students could depend on getting a bottle of alcohol, we would run to the market and use it to barter – half a litre could get you a loaf of bread.
“We only survived because we split everything between us in the student halls.
“My parents, who barely had enough to eat themselves, sent a few potatoes from our village in Ryazan.
“Other students shared their salo [cured pork fat] and grains. That’s how we managed.
“I remember one girl brought a whopping great bream. It was incredible!
“We dined out on it for a week and then made soup from the bones we had gnawed on until they shone.”