Everyone in the field of red cell haematology will be familiar with the name of Professor Elizabeth Anionwu (or to give her full title: Professor Elizabeth Nneka Anionwu, QBE, FRCN, RN, PhD, Emeritus Professor of Nursing, University of West London). In 1979 Elizabeth was appointed as the very first specialist nurse counselor for Thalassaemia and sickle cell disease in the UK, at Willesden Hospital in Brent. Since then her career has made spectacular progress. The Brent Centre became the model for other centers throughout the UK; and Elizabeth herself eventually entered the academic world becoming a senior lecturer in community genetics. This eventually led her to set up the Mary Seacole Centre for Nursing Practice at Thames Valley University, now the University of West London. (N.B. For those readers who have not heard of Mary Seacole, read the full article - she has a fascinating history similar to that of the much better known Florence Nightingale!)
Elizabeth is now retired but retains her role as Emeritus Professor of Nursing at the University of West London. She was awarded the CBE in 2001 for services to nursing; and in 2004 she was created a Fellow of the Royal College of Nursing (FRCN) for the development of nurse-led sickle cell and Thalassaemia counselling and education and leadership in transcultural nursing. Despite her formidable intellect, Elizabeth remains very much a nurse at heart - everyone who meets her is immediately struck by her warmth, humanity and the kind of empathy which only comes from a lifetime spent in caring for others. The Thalassaemia Society is very grateful to Elizabeth for her many years of hard work in raising the profile of Thalassaemia and sickle cell disorders; and now for sharing her story with the UKTS. To read the full story, visit the UKTS website.