A baby, given three minutes to live, defied the expectations of the doctors.


Teresa Smith was born with severe disabilities and confined to a wheelchair because of the side effects of the disastrous drug thalidomide, which was prescribed to pregnant women to combat morning sickness.

A baby who had only three minutes to live when she was born has just celebrated her 60th birthday.

Teresa Smith wants to establish a permanent memorial in Liverpool for those who did not survive childbirth.

Thalidomide, produced by the German company Grunenthal, was sold in the 1950s and has been associated with birth defects such as shortened arms and legs, blindness, deafness, heart problems and brain damage. It was taken off the market in 1961.

Teresa Smith was born on October 12, 1960, with short arms and no legs because her mother received the drug during pregnancy.

She is now leading a campaign to create a permanent memorial in Liverpool to honour all thalidomide babies who did not survive childbirth.

As one of the fighters of life, Teresa fought not only for herself but also for others.

She was born in Walton and was the second child of her father Joseph, who was from Kirkdale, and her Irish-born mother, also called Teresa.

Teresa said: “My mother was looking forward to having her second child and she chose to have me at home so that she could be close to my sister who was only a toddler.

She grew up with her big sister Annette, who is 16 months older.

“However, the plan for a normal pregnancy did not quite strive for what my mother thought was a healthy baby to be born.

“In the 1960s there were no scans, so this was a great shock to the midwife and the doctor.

“I was born with short arms and no legs and was later diagnosed as a thalidomide baby.

Teresa had only three minutes to live and she was taken to the hospital by the fastest route.

She added: “The midwife was named Rose Clarken. I later learned from Rose that she suspected something was wrong because she could not feel my legs during the examination”.

Teresa was lucky that she survived. The total number of people affected by thalidomide during pregnancy is estimated at 10,000, of whom about 40% died around the time of birth.

“I was there for three years after I was a very sick baby and many operations were to follow”…


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