WELL-wishers have raised nearly £59,000 for a baby boy reportedly dumped with his surrogate Thai mother after his Australian parents discovered he had Down’s syndrome.
The couple returned home with the boy’s twin sister, who was not affected by Down’s.
Pattaramon Chanbua from Chonburi province, south-east of Bangkok, agreed through an agent to be a surrogate for a fee of A$16,000 (£8,850), giving birth to twins – a boy and a girl – in December.
But when the couple discovered the boy, named Gammy by his birth mother, had the chromosomal disorder they abandoned him and returned to Australia with only the girl, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation revealed.
“The money offered was a lot for me. In my mind, with that money, one, we can educate my children, two, we can repay our debt,” said Pattaramon, already a mother of two, in an interview with the broadcaster in Chonburi.
But instead the 21-year-old was left to care for Gammy, who also has a life-threatening heart condition requiring expensive treatment she cannot afford. “I don’t know what to do. I chose to have him … I love him, he was in my tummy for nine months,” she said.
Pattaramon has never met Gammy’s Australian parents, according to the Thai newspaper Thairath, which broke the story of Gammy last week, and their identities remain unknown.
“They [the surrogacy agency] told me to carry a baby for a family that does not have children ... They said it would be a baby in a tube,” she said.
The Australian prime minister, Tony Abbott, said, based on media reports, “it’s an incredibly sad story”.
“I guess it illustrates some of the pitfalls involved in this particular [surrogacy] business,” he told reporters yesterday.
Australia’s department of foreign affairs is concerned by the report, which a spokeswoman said raised the broader issues of surrogacy in Thailand.
“Australian government agencies are examining these issues in consultation with authorities in Thailand,” the spokeswoman said.
Abbott said he was yet to be briefed on the matter but added he would look at “what might be possible” to help the boy.
Many foreign couples travel to Thailand, a popular medical tourism hub, to use its in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) services despite the unclear legal situation surrounding surrogacy. Tares Krassanairawiwong, a Thai public health ministry official, said it was illegal to pay for surrogacy in Thailand.
“Surrogacy can be done in Thailand but it has to comply with the laws... A surrogate has to be related to the intended parents and no money can be involved.”
The reports about Gammy’s abandonment have prompted hundreds of people to donate to a fundraising page created online for him last week.
By late Friday the “Hope for Gammy” page had raised more than A$98,000. It also carried scores of comments, many of which expressed outrage at the boy’s abandonment by his biological parents.
“May this selfish and heartless couple be exposed and shamed for this horrible neglect!” said one.