Nova Scotia

Thalidomide compensation for Cape Breton man hampered by destroyed records

Winston Loveys must first prove his mother took thalidomide while pregnant with him before he’s able to seek federal compensation.

Winston Loveys says medical records lost in New Waterford hospital flood in the 1960s

Winston Loveys was born without an arm. He says friends and family told him it's a result of his mother using the thalidomide while pregnant with him. However, he lacks the medical paperwork to prove it. (Wendy Martin/CBC)

A man from Cape Breton must first prove his mother took thalidomide while pregnant with him before he's able to seek federal compensation.

Winston Loveys was born without an arm, a result of his mother using the drug, he said.

"I was wondering why I was born with one arm, but my mother pretty well kept that to herself," he said.

Thalidomide, a drug that was used to treat morning sickness in women during the '50s and '60s, caused severe physical birth defects in babies.

"I did inquire because there's seven in my family and I'm the only one born with any deformities," Loveys said. "And [my mother] told me that I was a special child, and that God made me this way for a reason."

Loveys is a lobster fisherman. But, doctors say they're unsure how much longer he can sustain the work with one arm. (Wendy Martin/CBC)

Last week, Health Minister Rona Ambrose said 92 of the most eligible survivors will receive annual tax-free payments of either $75,000 or $100,000.

A third level of pension payments is set at $25,000 for those requiring less support.

After his mother died in the early 1990s, Loveys said her friends and neighbours told him she'd been taking thalidomide before he was born. However, both of their medical records were destroyed in a flood at the New Waterford hospital in the 1960s. He says the New Waterford hospital has no record of him until he was seven years old.

"My family physician has actually given me a letter stating he believes my arm is due to a drug my mother took," he said.

Loveys is a lobster fisherman, but because of constant pain, doctors aren't sure how much longer he'll be able to keep working.

Loveys said his last hope for proof may be in the mail, granting him compensation."Right now, I'm looking at working until retirement at 67...But, my doctors are telling me my [good] arm isn't going to last that long if I keep going the way I'm going."

He and a dozen other people without medical records have formed a group called Canada's Forgotten Thalidomide Survivors, hoping they can convince the government to include them in the compensation.

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