THE Australian parents and the Thai surrogate mother of a baby who has Down’s syndrome have given conflicting accounts of how he was left behind.
Pattharamon Chanbua, a 21-year-old food vendor in Thailand’s seaside town of Sri Rach, was paid by the couple to have their child. But they took home only one baby when she had twins, leaving behind Gammy.
The parents have insisted that they only knew about Gammy’s healthy twin sister, but the surrogate mother said the father had visited the twins in hospital.
Ms Chanbua has claimed that she was asked by the couple to have an abortion once they knew about Gammy’s condition. But she refused as it was against her Buddhist beliefs.
She plans to keep Gammy and raise him as her own. Besides Down’s syndrome, the six-month-old has a congenital heart condition and a lung infection.
The case has made international headlines and caused an uproar, particularly in Australia, where both prime minister Tony Abbott and immigration minister Scott Morrison have expressed regret about the situation.
An online campaign has raised more than A$210,000 (£124,800) to help Gammy’s mother with his medical expenses.
The parents reportedly said that they had a daughter of Gammy’s age but she did not have a brother.
They said they had experienced trouble with the surrogacy agency, describing it as “traumatising”. The unnamed couple, who live south of Perth, also denied any knowledge of a son to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
“We saw a few people at the hospital. We [didn’t] know who the surrogate was – it was very confusing. There was a language barrier,” they said.
They added that they had saved for a long time to pay for the surrogacy and it had “taken every cent we have”. They claim they have been told that the agency no longer exists.
But Ms Chanbua insisted that the father, who is in his 50s, “came to the hospital to take care of the girl but never looked Gammy in the face or carried him”, even though the two babies stayed next to each other.
Politicians have since weigh-ed in, with Mr Abbott calling it an “incredibly sad story”. He said the Australian government would look into the case. Yesterday, it said it was considering intervening.
Mr Morrison said that Ms Chanbua was “an absolute hero” and “a saint”, adding that the law surrounding the case was “very, very murky”.
“We are taking a close look at what can be done here, but I wouldn’t want to raise any false hopes or expectations,” Mr Morrison said. “We are dealing with something that has happened in another country’s jurisdiction.”
Mr Morrison’s office later said in a statement that “the child may be eligible for Australian citizenship”. Australian citizens are entitled to free health care.
“As this relates to an ongoing case and there is a need to respect privacy issues, further details are unable to be provided,” Mr Morrison’s office added.
Previously, Ms Chanbua said that she was not angry with the biological parents for leaving Gammy behind, and that she hoped they would take care of the boy’s twin sister they took with them.
“I’ve never felt angry at them or hated them. I’m always willing to forgive them,” she said.
“I want to see that they love the baby girl as much as my family loves Gammy. I want her to be well taken care of.”
Ms Chanbua was promised 300,000 baht (£5,540) by a surrogacy agency in Bangkok, Thailand’s capital, to be a surrogate for the Australian couple, but she has not been fully paid.
She said the agency knew about Gammy’s condition four to five months after she became pregnant but did not tell her. It wasn’t until the seventh month of her pregnancy when the doctors and the agency told her that one of the babies had Down’s syndrome and it was suggested that she abort him.