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Thalidomide oral history.

Blue, Ruth

About this work


Edited extracts from Thalidomide: An Oral History in which the interviewees discuss what they know of their birth. Participants include: Edward Freeman, Sukeshi Thakkar, Hazel Simmons, Geoff Adams-Spink, Mikey Argy, Mat Fraser, Sarah Gaitley, Mandy Masters and Simone Illger.


England : Wellcome Library, 2012-3.

Physical description

1 encoded audio file (08:06 min.)



Copyright note

Wellcome Trust, 2013.

Terms of use

Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial No Derivatives 2.0 UK: England & Wales.

Language note

In English.

Creator/production credits

Interviewer: Ruth Blue.


Thalidomide, marketed as Distaval, was a drug prescribed to women in the UK between 1958 and 1961 to treat morning sickness and insomnia. However, the drug had not been robustly tested and resulted in the birth of over 650 babies with thalidomide-induced impairments, ranging from extra digits to tetraphocomelia (impairments affecting the growth of all four limbs). The number of still births, ‘mercy’ killings and natural or induced abortions is unknown. The drug was finally withdrawn in December 1961 and the last thalidomide-affected baby was born in the UK the following year. 2012 marked the fiftieth anniversary of the withdrawal of the drug thalidomide from the market in the UK. To acknowledge this, Swansea University, in collaboration with the Thalidomide Trust, funded by Wellcome Trust, embarked on an oral history project to collect together a selection of oral testimonies from a cross-section of the thalidomide population. The project was headed by Professor Anne Borsay of Swansea University; the project assistant and interviewer was Dr Ruth Blue. Ethical approval for the project was obtained from the Research Ethics Committee of the College of Human and Health Sciences at Swansea University who also reviewed the questions and the formal consent procedure. Involvement from the Thalidomide Trust and Thalidomide Society was also ensured to safeguard the interests of any vulnerable adults.


Time start: 00:00:00 Time end: 00:08:06 Length: 00:08:06



  • English

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