Thalidomide survivor Kim pushes Germany for compensation

Kim Fenton's bones and muscles are disintegrating
Kim Fenton's bones and muscles are disintegrating

Ulster survivors of the Thalidomide scandal are pressing for damages from Germany as their bodies begin to fail them in mid-life due to the effects of the drug.

Developed in 1954 as a sedative by the German pharmaceutical firm, Chemie Gruenenthal, the drug was also used to ease morning sickness.

Agnes Lattimer was given the drug in hospital while pregnant, to help her sleep.

However, as a result her daughter Kim Fenton, a former Castlereagh mayor, suffered shortened arms and legs, deformed hands, no kneecaps and upside-down feet.

In the UK some 2,000 Thalidomide babies were born. Less then 500 of them are still alive – 18 of them are in Northern Ireland.

Fifty-five-year-old Kim told BBC News NI: “My bones and muscles are disintegrating because they’ve been so weakened by overuse to compensate for absent limbs.”

That is just one of the reasons why she and others are pressing to gain access to a German government fund that was set up to help the country’s own survivors.

Kim met last month with the German government.

“These talks have given us fresh hope that may well pave the way to a financial contribution in the not too distant future for us and other Thalidomiders across Europe to address our ongoing and worsening health situation,” she said.

Germany has declined to be drawn on what a fair outcome might look like.