The first specialist centre dedicated to treating Sickle Cell and Thalassaemia in the UK has celebrated its 40th anniversary.
The Brent Sickle Cell and Thalassaemia Centre opened in Central Middlesex Hospital (CMH) in 1979 helping people with an inherited blood condition that affects the body’s red blood cells.
The condition, which predominantly affects the African, African-Caribbean and Asian communities, was only given cursory attention before the efforts of Dr Misha Brozovic and nurse Elizabeth Anionwu who founded the centre.
Elizabeth said: “Misha really opened my eyes to what was happening and it made me angry that I had never been taught about the condition or the fact that the illness was neglected because it mainly affects marginalised black communities.”
Elizabeth, whose many accolades include being made a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire for her services to nursing and being inducted in the Nursing Times Hall of Fame, was recently given a Pride of Britain Lifetime Achievement Award for her work.
The event was attended by the Mayor of Brent Ernest Ezeajughi, Dame Elizabeth, Sir Graham Morgan, Dame Sally Davies who was a leading specialist doctor and researcher in sickle cell at CMH and TV presenter Trevor Phillips OBE
Dr Lola Oni, OBE, currently runs the centre where the specialist team look after more than 600 people.
Dr Oni said: “Many that lit the torch have now retired and those of us who are still in the field feel honoured to have climbed on the shoulder of the giants who pioneered the development of specialist Sickle Cell and Thalassaemia services not only in the UK but globally.”