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Monday, 18 January 2016

The 1960s scandal that still lives on....

Photo courtesy of thalidomide uk
Kim Fenton

Campaigner Kim Fenton was born with no legs and deformed hands  - none of which has prevented her from living a successful  life. But this weekend Kim was one of the first to congratulate The BBC for highlighting possibly the worst medical scandal in history through it's popular series Call the Midwife.
Though not based on Kim's life, the programme spoke for all the  children  maimed by thalidomide  - an innocuous-looking pill their mothers took in pregnancy to cure morning sickness in the late nineteen fifties and early sixties.

'I'm delighted that this part of history has been remembered and that a younger generation will know our story,' Kim, a former mayor of Castlereagh  Borough  Council told BBC Radio Ulster's The Sunday News. She and other survivors want the German government to properly compensate survivors who are now suffering even greater  complications as they live through middle age.

Thalidomide  was  developed   by German pharmaceutical company Grunethal in the 1950s and withdrawn three years later after it was found to disrupt foetal development.

As a writer I've always believed in the power of tackling real-life problems through  fiction  but this drama was  more poignant - and more pointed - than anything I've  seen before.

In the well-researched storyline a baby girl is born, without arms or legs, to a happy working class family. Her father, however, rejects her as a monster.  Not even the medical profession at that time understood what had caused the tragedy.

Today I visited thalidomide uk's website to vote for the setting up of an enquiry into thalidomide, something that still, after all these years, has never taken place.

I hope you will too.

You can Find out more about thalidomide here


Anonymous said...

My wife watched this and cried almost all the way through. I must admit it brought a tear to my eye too. All credit to Kim Fenton for making such a success of her life.

Guernsey Girl said...

A very courageous lady. I wonder how different her life would have been without the thalidomide tragedy?