Australian couple abandons Down syndrome baby

Couple took healthy twin girl and left boy with surrogate mother in Thailand

Gammy, a baby born with Down syndrome, is kissed by his surrogate mother Pattaramon Janbua at a hospital in Chonburi province. Photograph: Damir Sagolj /Reuters

Gammy, a baby born with Down syndrome, is kissed by his surrogate mother Pattaramon Janbua at a hospital in Chonburi province. Photograph: Damir Sagolj /Reuters

Sun, Aug 3, 2014, 16:53

An Australian couple that had twins by a surrogate mother in Thailand has abandoned one of the babies because he has Down syndrome and a congenital heart condition.

  They took the healthy twin, a girl, back to Australia and left the boy, called Gammy, with the surrogate mother Pattharamon Janbua (21), who already has two other children.

Gammy has a lung infection and needs life-saving surgery for his heart condition, medical treatments which Ms Pattharamon cannot afford.

  She was paid AU$11,700 (€8,100) to be a surrogate for the couple, whom she never met.  

“The money that was offered was a lot for me. In my mind, with that money … we can educate my children, we can repay our debt,” Ms Pattharamon said.

“Why does he have to go through all the hardships? I love him ... He’s like my child now.”

The Australian couple asked her to have an abortion when, four months into the pregnancy, they found out the child had Down syndrome. Ms Pattharamon, who is a Buddhist, refused.

  “I wish they will love my baby… I forgive them for everything. That is the best thing I can do, forgive… it is best for everybody,” she told the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper.

  “I don’t really think too much about the Australian couple. I can’t blame them… I don’t feel upset or angry about them anymore. They might have their own problems too.”

Ms Pattharamon said she wants Gammy to be a good person. “I don’t wish him to be the smart boy or intelligent person… I just want to see him as a good man,” she said. “Whatever he wants to be I will always support him, my boy.”

  An Australian charity, Hands Across the Water, is helping Ms Pattharamon with her hospital bills. A fundraising website, Hope for Gammy, had raised more than AU$200,000 (€139,000) by last night.

  “I did not expect this kind of help because since the Australian couple left me with Gammy nobody wanted to help me,” Ms Pattharamon said.

  “I especially did not expect it from the country where people came from to hire me to be a surrogate mother… I’ll share some of the money to help other babies who have Down syndrome and orphan children.”

The Thai military junta is now understood to be scrutinising surrogacy paid for by foreigners and the use of IVF to determine the gender of babies.

  Hundreds of existing surrogacy arrangements with Australians are said to be under threat.

  Australia has no national law regarding foreign surrogacy. People living in New South Wales, Queensland and the Australian Capital Territory cannot enter commercial surrogacy arrangements abroad, but those in other states and the Northern Territory can.