Lisa, 56, is one of thousands of “thalidomide babies” born in the late 1950s and early 1960s after pregnant women all over the world were prescribed the “safe” drug for morning sickness. She was born with severely malformed arms and hands – a sight which caused the midwife assisting at her delivery to scream and flee the room in tears – before her concerned mother Beryl was wheeled out of the ward without her newborn.
It would have taken little more than a government health warning to avoid the physical deformity and years of emotional scarring Lisa has lived for 56 years.
Now, on Monday night's episode of Australian Story, Lisa speaks of her dedication to seeking justice for all thalidomide survivors and their parents.
Born in March 1963, Lisa McManus is one of Australia’s youngest survivors, and suspects her fate would have been different had the government chosen to act.
Following reports of multiple babies born with severe deformities and internal abnormalities, in 1961, Distillers, the Australian pharmaceutical company that sold the drug, alerted the Commonwealth Health Department of the drug's risk to pregnant women, advising it would no longer sell it.
However, then-Health Minister Harrie Wade rejected advice to issue public warnings.
Lisa's mother had taken only two tablets for anxiety, but it was enough to change their lives forever.
In the 1970s, Lisa's parents joined a legal action against Distillers along with about 40 other Australian families. The case settled, and the families were offered a payout.
Lacking resources to fight further, families accepted the small sum of money, and signed away their future legal rights against the company.
"Five years I've been knocking on the doors of the government saying, 'this is us; we're not the thalidomide babies anymore, we're thalidomide adults'," Lisa tells Australian Story.
"This is us and we need help."
With her husband by her side, tireless efforts by Lisa have culminated in a Senate Inquiry to investigate the government's response to thalidomide survivors, who are still struggling with complex and health problems in their later years.