'My mum's pregnancy test before I was born left me disabled for life'
SEE ALSO :Briton wanted abroad heldWhen Gary was born in 1971, his arms were permanently straight and he had only one finger and one thumb that worked on both hands. He also had club foot as well as dead muscle in both his upper arms and legs. Gary, of Drumchapel, Glasgow, was transferred to London’s Great Ormond Street Hospital where he spent most of his childhood undergoing more than 100 painful operations in a bid to correct his arms, legs, hands and feet. He said: “The way I was born has affected me all my life – how I walk, how I carry things. I was told to get on with it and it was an act of God. “But now I feel that all I have been through could have been prevented if my mum had not been given Primodos.” The pregnancy test consisted of two pills that contained norethisterone and ethinylestradiol. It detected pregnancy by inducing menstruation in women who were not pregnant. At the age of two, Gary underwent surgery where doctors broke his left arm and moved his chest muscle into his shoulder in an attempt to give him the ability to carry things with his arm, which was then fixed into a permanent position. He had always known his mother Anne, now 71, had taken Primodos when pregnant, but he decided to contact The Association for Children Damaged by Hormone Pregnancy Tests after seeing a TV documentary earlier this year. Gary, who now lives in Southport on Merseyside, said: “It had an incredible impact. To see that there were people out there like me who’ve lived a similar experience and don’t know why it happened. I showed my mum the documentary and she broke down. “She had always told me growing up that she was given tablets while pregnant with me. “During her pregnancy, she felt something wasn’t right but the doctors told her it was her imagination. At that time, people didn’t question doctors. They took their word as gospel. “But the more I looked into it, the more I realised Primodos could be to blame. It’s heartbreaking because women wouldn’t have taken it if they’d been made aware of the risks. “Instead, my mum has lived her life wondering if it was something she’d done.” The Independent Medicines and Medical Devices Safety Review’s probe into health scandals including Primodos is expected to conclude next year. Marie Lyon, of the Association for Children Damaged by Hormone Pregnancy Tests, said: “Gary and his mum have lived with the devastating effects on their family without being aware that an HPT could have been responsible.” Software designer Gary added: “It’s time people had answers.” In 1982, a group action against Schering Chemicals, who produced Primodos, was shelved but the recent discovery of documents prompted calls for a Government investigation. Bayer, which acquired Schering in 2006, said: “No new scientific knowledge has been produced which would call into question the validity of the previous assessment of there being no link between the use of Primodos and the occurrence of such congenital abnormalities.”
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