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Five CO2 gas cylinders, 1962-1963

These five carbon dioxide gas cylinders powered artificial arms used by children born with limb deformities. Their conditions were caused by the drug Thalidomide. Each cylinder represents a stage in the development of CO2 power. The bronze anodised British Oxygen Company cylinder was the original type, first used in November 1962. It was replaced by the steel, grey Chesterfield cylinder in 1963. This was dangerous if incorrectly handled and was soon withdrawn. It was then replaced by a yellow DHSS (Department of Health and Social Security) Walter Kidde cylinder. The holster allowed attachment to a waist belt. These cylinders were used in limbs made at the Limb Fitting Centre at Queen Mary's Hospital in Roehampton, London in the early 1960s. Thalidomide was given to pregnant women in the late 1950s and early 1960s to ease morning sickness. It caused thousands of serious birth defects, world-wide. Babies were born with under-developed or missing limbs.

Object number:

1999-584

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Glossary:

Glossary: gas cylinder

A cylinder in which pressurized gas is stored

Glossary: orthopaedics

The branch of medicine concerned with the preservation and restoration of the muscular and skeletal systems in the body.

Glossary: prostheses

Artificial body parts, or materials inserted into tissue for functional, cosmetic, or therapeutic effect. Prostheses can be functional (artificial arms and legs), or cosmetic (artificial eye).