No Hands To Hold and No Legs To Dance On
by Louise Medus , , Gill Swain
Loving and living - a Thalidomide survivor's story. While the battle for the compensation of Thalidomide victims was raging in the 1970s, former Labour MP Jack Ashley asked in a parliamentary debate how Louise, then 11 years old, could look forward to “laughing and loving with no hand to hold and no legs to dance on”. This is a survivor’s story, a triumph of the human spirit over adversity.
Louise was born Louise Mason, a victim of the devastating drug Thalidomide. Born without arms and legs, she is the daughter of David Mason, who single-handedly held out against the drug company, the legal establishment and all the other parents of Thalidomide victims in the high-profile fight for proper compensation for the victims. As she was photographed with her family and appeared on television meeting celebrities during the battle, few people realised that she did not live with her wealthy parents and three siblings at their spacious North London home but was being brought up in an institution, Chailey Heritage in Sussex. In fact, Louise had never gone home from hospital and, for the first five weeks of her life, her mother didn’t even see her.
This is a survivor’s story, a triumph of the human spirit over adversity. Louise married John, a partially sighted man, and had two beautiful children. She was devastated when she discovered that he was having an affair with their carer. She also had to undergo a kidney transplant, the first Thalidomide victim to do so. She has worked, been an active disability rights campaigner and has now found new love, with Darren, a fellow Thalidomide victim who was born without arms.