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'Nothing more precious than children'

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There is nothing more precious than a baby, says retiring paediatrician Roland Broadbent.

Dr Broadbent has dedicated decades to keeping the South’s most vulnerable babies alive as a specialist neonatologist, including 25 years as head of Dunedin Hospital’s NICU.

Today he was remembered as a wise and supportive colleague skilled at organising happy teams and willing to stand up for his staff.

The mother of a child he had cared for gave a moving tribute to the lasting effect he had on her family’s life.

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Dr Broadbent, who is retiring after a 40-year career as a paediatrician (including 31 years in Dunedin) said he was privileged to have made connections with so many families.

“Families have one particularly precious possession and that’s their child. And when they’re sick you want to be able to trust the doctor that’s looking after them.

“And one of the things I learned early on that if the baby was becoming sick and the mother was worried about her child, one of the more reassuring things you could tell her was that her baby was sick.

“Because until then, perhaps, she was alone with her worry about the baby’s sickness. It gave her reassurance that her family was no longer on their own.”

He paid tribute to his own family, who had helped him through the tough challenges of neonatology, a field he thought would wear him out by the time he was 50.

“I’ve had this family base which has allowed me to come to work refreshed.”

He also thanked those he had worked with for being “such good colleagues” and said the NICU was in excellent hands.

Dr Broadbent’s distinguished academic work and influence on students and young doctors was noted and he will continue on part-time at the University of Otago.

Along with that, he will have plenty to keep him occupied in retirement.

“I have grandchildren (including one-year-old Harry, who joined him at today's celebration) and we have some land and some animals to look after so I’ll be busy with all that.”