Milica Brozović obituary

Other lives: Haematologist whose work improved the screening and treatment of sickle cell disease

My wife, Milica “Misha” Brozović, who has died aged 84, was a leading figure in the medical field of haematology. She was deeply committed to caring for patients and their families dealing with inherited blood diseases such as sickle cell disease. Her work resulted in better treatment, information and screening services nationally for these patients.

Born in Belgrade, Serbia, Misha was the daughter of Jelisaveta (nee Vuković) and Filip Vasić, chief scientist at the city’s Institute for the Economics of Investments. While at grammar school she decided to become a physician.

After graduating in medicine from the University of Belgrade in 1962 and completing her internship, she went to London in 1964 as a research assistant in the department of haematology at the Royal Postgraduate Medical School. After appointments at Hammersmith hospital, St Bartholomew’s, the National Institute for Medical Research and Northwick Park hospital, she was invited to become the first consultant haematologist in the Central Middlesex hospital in London in 1975.

There she encountered patients, and their families, who were severely affected by sickle cell disease and for whom appropriate medical and social services did not exist. With the help of her colleagues, medical and social workers, in 1979 Misha established the Brent Sickle Cell Centre, providing treatment, information and advice. The group also established services for neonatal screening for haemoglobin S for families, and later a regional referral centre for neonatal screening of other abnormalities of haemoglobin synthesis. The department became a model whose influence spread nationwide and provided an impetus for the creation of the Sickle Cell Society, a registered charity established in 1979.

Misha was a leader as well as a physician, teacher, researcher and administrator. As a physician she was loved by her patients. As a teacher at Central Middlesex and at St Mary’s Hospital Medical School she influenced several young doctors to become professors in haematology. As a researcher she published more than 100 papers. For a while she was also head of the pathology department at Central Middlesex.

After retirement in 1993, Misha continued working as a visiting consultant haematologist in the university hospitals of the Medical School of Abu Dhabi, the Medical School of Cape Town, and the Medical School of Otago at the University in Christchurch. In the 2010s, and back in the UK, Misha studied astronomy, obtaining a diploma in the subject from University College London.

Misha enjoyed life, always with a smile on her face: with friends, visiting museums, going to concerts and theatres, and walking and climbing. She was an avid explorer, loved hiking on her local Ridgeway trail, in the Lake District or in Zanskar, northern India, diving in the Maldives, and exploring the Arabian desert. Above all, though, she cherished the time she spent with her grandchildren, Daniel, Helen and Nina.

We met in the Julian Alps in Slovenia during a snowstorm in 1955, and married three years later. She is survived by me, our son, Nicholas, her grandchildren and her brother, Voislav.

Branko Brozović

The GuardianTramp

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