Help Unrecognised Thalidomide Survivors who never received compensation

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This is Bruce Wenham. He was born without arms. His mother’s doctor gave her a drug to try to reduce her morning sickness. No prescription, just something to try out.  100,000 babies were born around that time worldwide to mothers who had taken Thalidomide, with very serious disabilities.  50% of those children died.

There are 167 adult Thalidomide survivors in Canada who have no documentation relating to their mothers having been prescribed this terrible drug.  The government has taken advantage of this lack of a paper-trail to give these people ZERO compensation – no money to equip their homes, to buy an adapted car, to help the victims of one of the worst pharmaceutical negligence cases of modern times. For over fifty years they have struggled alone, with only their families and friends to provide help and support.

At the time that Bruce’s mother was given Thalidomide, it was widely distributed without a prescription. In many cases, medical records have disappeared or been destroyed by hospitals. 

Two funds have been set up by the Canadian government – one in 1991 and one in 2015 but because Bruce and the other victims cannot prove with a piece of paper linking their disabilities to a Thalidomide prescription, they haven't received a single dollar.

In the UK, there was also casual distribution of Thalidomide by doctors in the in the late 1950s and early 1960s, before the truth was known. The UK Thalidomide Trust currently supports 466 people, despite the fact that no documentary evidence is available. Instead of a paper trail, the UK Trust relies on medical examinations of applicants. 

Meanwhile in Canada, despite the government repeatedly stating in the last two years that their criteria is unfair and should be changed, nothing has happened.

After battling for many years on behalf of the un-recognised Thalidomide survivors, Bruce has been given legal permission for a class action to be launched, but this can take many years, is very costly and is a hugely stressful path for these victims.

Canada’s Thalidomide survivors are ageing – some have died without receiving any compensation. That money could have potentially extended their lives or, at the very least, have improved their quality of life. 

We call on the Canadian government to:

1.       Change the law immediately to remove the (outrageous and) unfair documentary requirement and replace it with a medical examination

 2.       Immediately compensate victims, like Bruce, who already filed medical evidence proving Thalidomide exposure

3.       Re-start all claimants cases under the new criteria

 4.       Speed up the process and deliver on their promises – so that the cases are reviewed within the next 6 months

 5.       Compensate these people before it’s too late and save them the emotional burden, the huge stress and expense of a class action.

It has been a lifetime struggle for Bruce to be recognised as a Thalidomide victim. NO MORE DELAY!  We need to see justice now, and for this cruel and unfair matter to be put right once and for all.

Please sign this petition to support the dignity of the Unrecognised Thalidomide Survivors



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