Lives of the fellows

Sadrudin Kassam Mohamed Jivani

b.10 August 1934 d.13 July 1997
MB ChB Birm(1962) MRCS LRCP(1962) DCH(1966) MRCP(1968) FRCPC(1972) FRCP(1980)

Sadru Jivani was a consultant paediatrician to the Blackburn, Hyndburn and Ribble Valley Health Authority. Born near Kampala, Uganda, his education was paid for by his oldest brother, Nurali, and older sister, Guli (the first woman from his Ismaili community to become a doctor). Apparently he did not initially want to become a doctor - he claimed that Nurali forced him into the profession!

This turned out to be an excellent move. Sadru sailed through his medical school years in Birmingham, where he not only was an excellent and very popular student, but also his year’s representative on the student council and, in the fourth year, the president of the students union. His warm, generous, outgoing personality and brilliant sense of humour made him many good and lifelong friends. Best among them was Janet, his wife, who was his constant support for the rest of his life. They had three children, Yashmin, Hanif and Shahenaz.

He quickly passed his diploma in child health and paediatric membership examinations, but it was only after years in Africa and Canada that he was eventually offered, in 1975, what he always wished - a consultant paediatric post in the British NHS. It was greatly to the benefit of the children of Blackburn and the surrounding district.

Sadru transformed the Blackburn paediatric service, in particular the neonatal and endocrine services, making it one of the strongest in the country. He was one of the very few district general hospital paediatricians to be appointed to the academic board of the British Paediatric Association, and was a past president of the Manchester Paediatric Club. He worked closely with the Manchester Children’s Hospital, often taking their admissions ‘overflow’, and made Blackburn the prime place in the region, along with the Manchester teaching hospital, for paediatric training. A paediatric registrar with the Jivani imprint always did well.

Unfortunately Sadru was saddled all his adult life with ill-health, largely due to a neglected rheumatic fever as a child. A heart valve replacement in 1992 helped for a while, but he later had a myocardial infarction, leaving him with ischaemia. This did not prevent him from playing golf with great enthusiasm and using methods compiled from various books of instruction, not all of which were compatible. My favourite memory of him is his delight with a below-handicap round on the Turnberry Championship Course, despite a highly eccentric swing that amazed the locals.

In 1995 it was found he had myelodysplasia. Despite his worsening ill-health and the need for ever more frequent transfusions, in his last eighteen months he was able to visit Uganda for the first time in twenty years and to see again his ancestral island of Lamu, off the coast of Kenya. Always one to keep up with his student friends, he was looking forward to our reunion in October 1997. It was not the same without him.

More than five hundred people, including many colleagues and former patients, attended his memorial service in Accrington Town Hall. Twenty of his friends and colleagues gave short appreciations of the student, the doctor and the man, ending with a moving address by David Baum. By chance it was the day after Princess Dianas funeral, so the people of Blackburn and Accrington could have been forgiven for feeling that two successive days of mourning was too much. That they came in such numbers said volumes for the respect in which they held him. In the Town Hall foyer the donations to his memory, to be spent on the sick children of the area, far exceeded the donations for the Princess.

Tom Smith

[Brit.med.J., 1997,315,752]

(Volume X, page 263)

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