Man born with no arms or legs left for dead at birth

A man who was born without any arms and legs, and tragically left for dead as a baby, has revealed how his lucky to be alive after someone heard his cries.

Kevin Donnellon was born with tetra-Amelia syndrome – which is a rare disorder characterised by the absence of all four limbs – after his mother took thalidomide while pregnant.

While it was thought that Kevin would have been born a stillborn, he survived against all odds, and now is a married dad-of-two.

Despite being born without limbs, Kevin, from Crosby, Merseyside, has lived life to the fullest.

He believes the time is now right to not only open up about his life – revealing that he has not allowed his disabilities to set him back in any way – but also become one of many who have told their stories of being a thalidomide child.

His rich and fulfilling life has enabled him to obtained a degree in social sciences, he says, and while at university researched the portrayal of people with disabilities. After, Kevin went on to work with adults with learning disabilities.

In speaking to his friend and author Colin Stewart, 50, from Dingle, Ireland, a moving novel has been written about his life as a thalidomide baby, report Liverpool Echo.

The controversially named ‘Flid’ tells the moving story of Kevin’s life from childhood through to his adult life.

One of the most heartbreaking stories from the novel describes how Kevin was left for dead by medics at the hospital, because they thought he was stillborn baby.

Colin said that it was only sometime after someone heard his cries that they realised he was alive.

His mum, who at first was told he had not lived, was then allowed to take him home.

Speaking about his book, which is based on real events from Kevin’s life, Colin said: “Flid represents a labour of love that grew and evolved over a 10 year period, though it was only at a party to celebrate Kevin’s 50th, in a room full of other thalidomides that I realised these stories would soon be forgotten.”

Colin said the time felt right to tell Kevin’s tale as the story around the thalidomide children is generational.

He added people from younger generations were at risk of not knowing the stories as the children are now reaching their seventh decade, going on to point to how influential the stories of the thalidomide children were in terms of medical ethics and compensation.

The 50-year-old author said that he felt “it was essential to give voice to an individual and not the tragic stereotype, because Kevin is nothing if not a man defined by his character.”

Colin continued to say that by having the controversial term as the title, he hopes to reclaim it after years of it being used as an insult.

Colin, who also works with children with special needs, said he felt really proud being able to tell Kevin’s incredible story. He told the ECHO : “Kevin has lived a really good life – a really interesting life.

“He’s never been defined by his disability. He does so many things. The book has a contrast between my voice as narrator and his. I have regrets in my life about never taking risks while Kevin doesn’t think that way. He’s never cautious and like with regrets. He just does the things he wants.”

What is a ‘thalidomide baby’?
During the late 1950s and early 1960s, thalidomide was a drug that was widely used as a treatment for nausea in pregnant women.

It became apparent in the 1960s that thalidomide treatment resulted in severe birth defects in thousands of children.

An estimated 10,000 to 20,000 children in 46 countries were born with deformities, such as phocomelia, which is a malformation of human arms and legs, as a consequence of thalidomide use.

The severity and location of the deformities depended on how many days into the pregnancy the mother was before beginning treatment.

If thalidomide was taken on the 20th day of pregnancy it caused central brain damage, on day 21 it would damage the eyes, on day 22 the ears and face, on day 24 the arms, and leg damage would occur if taken up to day 28.