Obituaries: Michael 'Michel' E. T. D. Vlasto
1. The British Medical Journal
2. The Wykehamist
ichael Vlasto died peacefully at his home on May 29th 1979 at the age of 91, and a few weeks before his diamond wedding [anniversary]. His wife and three daughters were with him to the end.
He was born in Paris of Greek parents, his father [Ernest Michel Vlasto] a distinguished engineer worked with De Lesseps. Educated at a French lycée, Winchester College and University College [London], he qualified from U.C.H. in 1910. He obtained his F.R.C.S. in 1913, holding jobs as Demonstrator of Anatomy, House Surgeon, Resident Obstetric Officer and Clinical Assistant with the E.N.T. department at U.C.H., and as Assistant Casualty Medical Officer at Great Ormond Street.
He served as a temporary naval surgeon from 1914-1919, seeing action at the Battle of Coronel and the Battle of the Falkland Islands in H.M.S. Canopus. For two years he was in charge of the E.N.T. departments at R.N.H. Portsmouth and R.N.H. Malta.
Continuing E.N.T. surgery [after the war see M.E.T.D. Vlasto's cuttings book called 'Circulation'], he served at the Queen's Hospital for Children, Charing Cross Hospital, St Luke's Hostel for The Clergy and the West Herts. Hospital.
In 1923 he was appointed to the west London Hospital where he served until his retirement in 1947 when his acute eyesight began to fail.
He wrote a standard text book on the nursing of diseases of E.N.T. and many articles in the medical press, including articles on the removal of tonsils by dissection, or by the reverse guillotine method, Functional Aphonia, the Chorda Tympani nerve in otology and fish bones in the throat, and presented many cases at the Royal Society of Medicine.
He was an accomplished athlete, enjoying a variety of games, latterly reduced to croquet and eventually chess.
Married in 1919 to Chrissy Michell Croil of Aberdeen, whom he met as a naval V.A.D. at R.N.H. Bighi in Malta, he was a prominent member of the Anglo-Greek community in London, where he practised in Wimpole Street.
He had one son [Michael Croil Vlasto] who died at the age of 47 and three daughters [Helen Croil Vlasto, Christian Croil Vlasto and Nancy Lorna Mary Vlasto]. He retired to Westerham in Kent where he enjoyed for many years the pleasures of his garden and of his children, his grandchildren and his great-grandchildren.
He will always be remembered by all who knew him as a man of small stature and tremendous vitality. A keen probing mind, interested in the widest range of subjects, his intellectual integrity was unimpaired by ephemeral things. But above all he will be remembered for his personal warmth, true interest in people, charm, and loving nature.
Announcement in The Times and The Daily Telegraph. Michel Vlasto's ashes were placed in his family's vault in the Greek Orthodox concession at West Norwood Cemetery, London. However. His 'nearest and dearest', however, saw no reason to record his name there, nor that of his adored wife, Chrissy Vlasto (née Croil), whose ashes were scattered elsewhere...
After an education at Winchester College he studied medicine at University College and University College Hospital, London. He then became: Demonstrator of Anatomy; House Surgeon; Resident Obstetric Assistant; Clinical Assistant to the Ear, Nose and Throat Department; and Assistant Casualty Medical Officer at the Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children.
He qualified as M.B., B.S., 1910; M.R.C.S., L.R.C.P., 1911; F.R.C.S. England, 1913.
During the First World War he served as Temporary Naval Surgeon from August 1914 to March 1919. During the latter two years he was in charge of the Ear Nose and Throat Departments at the Portsmouth and Malta Royal Naval Hospitals.
He was demobilised in April 1919 and in May 1919 was appointed Aural Surgeon to the Queen's Hospital for Children. In August 1919 he began practice from his consulting rooms at 26 Wimpole Street and was appointed Chief Assistant in the Throat Department at the Charing Cross Hospital. On the 5 March 1920 he became a member of the Laringological Section of the Royal Society of Medicine. On 13 March 1920 he gave a lecture to St John's Ambulance on 'Some Common Affection of the Ear, Nose & Throat'. On 18 March 1920 he made his first visit to the Queen's Hospital after three months' suspension. In September 1920 he was appointed Aural Surgeon to St Luke's Hostel for the Clergy. He was also Aural Surgeon to the West Herts Hospital. In 1920 he looked after E. D. D. Davis' practice during a holiday the foremost specialist in the field. At about this time he also published his Infant Weight Chart (published by H. K. Lewis of Gower Street, WC1). On 18 December 1933 he was elected an overseas member of the 'Société de Laryngologie des Hôpitaux de Paris'.
This Infant Birth Weight Chart, above right, was designed and promoted by Michel Vlasto who was for a long time a specialist in childhood diseases of the ear, nose and throat. The chart played an important role in showing doctors, nurses and nursing mothers the importance of tracking a baby's weight carefully in its first months. Early indications of a problem cannot usually be signalled by the baby itself, but even a slight alteration in the graph line may be significant and sometimes, particularly in an era before antibiotics, might provide a warning that could save a life. This particular chart concerns Michel Vlasto's first grand-child, Christopher Long.
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