'exhausted' | 

Ireland’s youngest Thalidomide survivor makes birthday wish for ‘sorry saga’ to end

"I can’t spend the rest of my days fighting,” said Kerry man John Stack.

John Stack (60) is celebrating his birthday today.

The Irish Thalidomide Association has long been campaigning for justice.

Maeve McTaggartSunday World

Ireland’s youngest Thalidomide survivor turns 60 today, with his birthday wish being for “closure” of “this sorry saga.”

Kerry man John Stack did not expect to live to middle age due to the effects of the toxic morning sickness drug Thalidomide, he says.

His wish on his 60th birthday is “that 2023 draws a line in the sand of this sorry saga. It’s gone on too long.

"That a fair deal is done now. We need closure, we are exhausted.

"I can’t spend the rest of my days fighting,” he added.

"As children we weren’t expected to live to middle age - I’m delighted to have got this far.”

The 60-year-old has been the chairperson of the Irish Thalidomide Association (ITA) for many years and is the youngest Irish survivor of the scandal.

The Irish Thalidomide Association has long been campaigning for justice.

He was born over a year after the drug was withdrawn from the international market in November 1961.

In October, John revealed: “If they had taken the drug off the market in ’61, like they were supposed to; I would never have been affected at all.

"My mother must have taken it around June of ’62. It was supposed to have been taken off the shelf, but they didn’t.”

It was still available over the counter in Ireland twelve months later, with authorities not acting until seven months after the international withdrawal.

The ITA has continuously sought compensation from the State, with most refusing an offer of around €62,000 in 2009 as it was a “derisory offer” that was insufficient to cover the expenses of adapting to life with a disability.

"There are only 40 Irish survivors left in Ireland, nearly 100 have died around the world in 2022 alone,” said Thalidomide survivor and spokesperson for the ITA, Finola Cassidy.

"We think of ourselves as a Thalidomide family. We are so happy and grateful to be able to mark Johns’ birthday.

"He is the most remarkable and unassuming man.”

In a documentary telling the story of Thalidomide survivors last year, Finnola told Independent.ie of her own experience:

“My mother might have taken two tablets, possibly on day 22 of the pregnancy, and that is when the arms were being developed. It was a big shock.

"I was baptised in the delivery ward. I wasn’t expected to survive,” she said.

“We feel very strongly that the State has let us down on numerous occasions. I hope it is rectified in my lifetime. I am not always sure that it will be.

"They really failed us, they failed us as children, and they are still failing us as adults,” she said.


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