The Dysmelic Doctor with a safety net for marginalised
This story is featured in The Irish Times
'I REMEMBER the doctor looking at me and [saying] into a dictaphone at the end of my bed that, cosmetically, amputation would be a good option."
This was Dublin GP Dr Austin O'Carroll's first encounter with a member of the medical profession, which he was destined to join.
It is also one of his most vivid memories of being reviewed in the National Rehabilitation Hospital in Dublin along with a number of other Irish children born to mothers in the late 1950s and early 1960s, who had been prescribed thalidomide for morning sickness in pregnancy.
O'Carroll, who turns 50 this month, was born with significantly shortened legs and, like many others living with thalidomide in Ireland today, he has noticed a deterioration in his condition. He is a member of the Irish Thalidomide Association and has been a strong voice in the campaign for a revised government compensation package for thalidomide survivors.
Despite his worsening condition, he continues to work as a full-time GP in inner-city Dublin. As walking puts undue pressure on his joints, the only concession he has allowed himself is a bicycle, which has become his preferred mode of transport around the city. Neither did thalidomide stop him from working with doctors Neasa McDonagh, Cathy Cullen and Ming Rawat to establish the State's first scheme dedicated to training GPs to work in areas of deprivation.
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