The legal battles that have surrounded the thalidomide tragedy since the late Fifties and early Sixties continue, and so do the heart rending stories.
The legal battles that have surrounded the thalidomide tragedy since the late Fifties and early Sixties continue, and so do the heart rending stories. But it is not all despair and disappointment. The thalidomide babies of the Fifties are now young men and women, and many of them have undergone remarkable re-habitation programmes. One such success story is Australian Brett Neilson from Sydney.
SYNOPSIS: Brett, one of the original thalidomide babies, is 18 year old. He has all the interests of the average teenager, and some pretty unique talents.
Thalidomide produces something called phocomelia, or seal limbs. Brett was born without arms, but when watching him, the question of what people can't do without arms seems irrelevant. More to the point is, what could we do with our feet if we had to? He says that he is frustrated by a few things that he can't do, such as riding a motorcycle by himself. And he'd like to be able to walk down the street, holding hands with his girlfriend.
There are very few things that Brett can't do. he rides a push-bike and sails his own dinghy. He can swim, cooks, do the washing up, and play the trombone. At the age of ten he made his own pocket money by mowing lawns in the neighbourhood. He does everything with his feet, even drive a car. He also types and writes with them, and though he may not be able to hold hands with his girlfriend, he can light her cigarette.
Brett is an aspiring singer-songwriter. He first started writing songs at boarding school in his spare time. Then, as he puts it, he started bashing away at the piano. And as he says, he's been progressing ever since.