Contergan victim: the fight for recognition

Harry Rack was born severely disabled after his mother took the sleeping pill and sedative Contergan during pregnancy. In 1967 he was filmed by an ARD cameraman in the hospital. The subject: Contergan children. You can see Rack wearing a leather hard hat and walking down the long corridor of the children’s ward with a cart. Rack explains to BR policy magazine Kontrovers that he can still remember the shooting and that he has not forgotten the clinic’s doctor.

“He also said to me: You are Contergan. Never let this be told away from you. I remembered that when I was so little.” Harry Rack

Rack has hip and shoulder damage from birth; there is only a single finger on the left shoulder and a short arm and three fingers on the right.

The foundation sees no connection with Contergan

For a long time he has been fighting to be recognized as a thalidomide victim. For him, it’s about getting a monthly pension. But his efforts are in vain. The foundation does not recognize Harry Rack, his disabilities are not due to the use of thalidomide, she explains to the BR policy magazine Kontrovers. Although Harry Rack has released her from the duty of confidentiality, the Contergan Foundation does not want to comment on the specific case. Instead, it generally states:

“The Contergan Foundation engages a medical commission, which comes to an assessment of the application independently and exclusively on the basis of its medical expertise.” Contergan Foundation

But Harry Rack’s lawyer, Michael Heidrich, doubts it more and more. For him, his client’s disabilities are clearly due to Contergan. Especially the single finger on the left shoulder.

“Actually the most typical thalidomide damage is phocomelia, in German, it is called seal limb. Seal limb because the long arm bones are missing. A lot of recognized thalidomide handicapped people have that. This damage is not dealt with at all.” Michael Heidrich, Harry Rack’s attorney

The foundation also does not deal with the television film, which has now appeared years later. In addition: reports and X-rays from Harry Rack’s childhood, which prove his thalidomide damage, have apparently disappeared from his medical file.

Does the foundation always fulfill its purpose?

Attorney Michael Heidrich assumes that hundreds of Contergan victims do not get the support they are entitled to. He also has thalidomide damage – and the foundation wanted to reduce his pension. He complained. Successfully. The judgment stated that the results of the investigation in the report by the Contergan Foundation did not correspond to reality. It couldn’t be more clear.

Harry Rack will soon be 60 years old. He is determined to take legal action against the Contergan Foundation. With his pension he would pay for the urgently needed handicapped accessible bathroom and finally afford the help that a person with thalidomide damage needs.


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