By Jim Roope, CNN
(CNN) - Jack Merica’s mother suffered from severe morning sickness and a history of miscarriages. When she was pregnant with him in the late 1950s, the morning sickness came back. Concerned that her symptoms could bring on another miscarriage, she went to the doctor. To fight the sickness, she was given the experimental drug thalidomide.
[1:36] “My Mom said she just took it once or twice,” said Merica. “And that’s all it takes.”
Merica was born with asymmetrical-bilateral phocomelia, a condition in which the upper part of an arm or leg is under-developed or non-existent. His left arm is 16 inches from shoulder to fingertip and his right arm is 28 inches, shoulder to fingertip.
[1:56] “All they told her was that it was a birth defect,” said Merica “That it was just one of those things.”
Merica said the doctors didn’t connect his mother’s use of thalidomide with his condition. But she did. Sitting in the waiting room of her pediatrician’s office in 1964, when she opened Life magazine to a story with pictures of children in Europe with birth defects linked to thalidomide.
[2:31] “I remember pointing out to her that one little girl’s arm looked just like my left arm,” said Merica. “She put two and two together.”
The doctors told Merica that it was something he’d just have to live with.
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