Thalidomide victim Bernadette Bainbridge.

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FORGOTTEN BUT NO GONE-- THALIDOMIDE-- (2014)


These are the victims of the drug thalidomide.


Once hailed as a “miracle drug” for ailments such as insomnia and morning sickness, was in fact working havoc inside the wombs of expectant mothers.

Thalidomide was far from a miracle drug. It was dangerous and it became a scandal.

The drug, created by German pharmaceutical company Chemie Grünenthal, afflicted approximately 6,000-10,000 babies worldwide.

Babies were born with limb deformities and internal damage. Others were deaf and had no legs, while many others did not survive or were abandoned.

Now middle-aged, they have lived a lifetime of coping with their disability and many are suffering with chronic physical pain. This in addition to the emotional scars that remain from growing up with a unique disability.

This is their forgotten story.

Paul Settle's knees are painfully attached to his hips forcing him to walk on muscle, he stands at 4' tall and has Rheumatoid arthritis.

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Peter Settle and his identical twin brother Paul Settle. They are both fathers and were very active in sports as children and later held down jobs. Peter is 4'10", has a double curve on his back due to Scoliosis and has one leg.

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Aline Vachon has arms which are misshapen and do not bend. She lives with increasing chronic pain as she cannot afford the $100 cdn monthly expense of pain medication. She can no longer work because of her condition and often relies on friends to buy her groceries.

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Thalidomide victim Sandy Hatch receives a manicure for the first time at a salon in Hamilton, Ontario on January 23, 2015. She has always feared that people wouldn't want to touch her disfigured hands. (Michelle Siu for The Globe and Mail)
Sandy Hatch receives a manicure for the first time. She has always feared that people wouldn't want to touch her disfigured hands.
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MONTREAL, CANADA--This is the story of French Canadian grandmother Johanne Hébert, 52.

As a child, Johanne Hébert’s nickname was Sunshine, because her teacher said she was always smiling. She adored skiing and biking. Now, her main activity is pain management.

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The heavy prosthetic device that Johanne wore as a child. Nearly all victims eventually stopped wearing the prosthetic devices that didn’t work well.

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Johanne uses her foot to knock on her neighbor's door to check on her granddaughter who is playing with a friend. The neighbor cannot hear the muffled knock of Johanne's foot and she must call out to get their attention. 

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Johanne Hébert lives alone in her apartment in Montreal, Quebec.

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Johanne's day revolves around pain management. She takes 12 morphine injections a day, has a handful of pills three times a day and has a patch with pain medication replaced every three days.

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Six times a day she inserts two morphine injections into her thigh. She relies greatly on these injections to help manage the constant and increasing pain in her disabled body.

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Johanne takes two showers a week with the assistance of a social worker. She washes her hair by rubbing her head against a sponge affixed to the shower wall.

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Simple tasks for Johanne are straining and exhausting. A hairbrush is screwed into the wall for her bathroom routine. 

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Johanne dries her hair next to framed photos that she took. Although she rarely leaves the house now, photography used to be the best way that she can forget about her pain. 

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Johanne cuts her finger nails. She is unable to cut her toenails which become painful when they are overgrown.

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The pull-out couch is permanently extended as Johanne must lie down constantly because of the chronic pain that her disabled body endures. 

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Johanne drops a container of soya sauce during one of the regular visits with her 28-year-old daughter Kate Verville and 5-year-old granddaughter Ariel.

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Kate cleans a mess after her mother dropped a container of soy sauce. Kate has been helping her single-mother in many ways including assistance with tampons and suppositories. Now as a young single mother herself, Kate visits as much as she can manage but her life has been far from easy.

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Johanne kisses her 28-year-old daughter Kate good-bye. Kate visits regularly and feels she has been taking care of her single-mother her entire life.

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