An Australian couple accused of abandoning a special needs baby in Thailand has denied the claim, saying their side of the story is much different from the surrogate mother’s.
At the center of the controversy is 7-month-old Gammy, who was born with Down Syndrome and a congenital heart condition.
His surrogate mother, Pattaramon Chanbua, gave birth to him and his twin sister seven months ago.
When their biological parents arrived from Australia, Pattaramon says they only took home the healthy baby girl, abandoning Gammy.
After initially denying they knew about Gammy, a friend of the Australian couple issued a statement to an area newspaper.
“Gammy was very sick when he was born and the biological parents were told he would not survive and he had a day, at best, to live and to say goodbye,” the friend told the Bunbury Mail.
Pattharamon claims the couple asked her to terminate the child when she was seven months pregnant.
The couple’s friend says those claims are false.
Pattaramon says she was told she would be paid $9,300 to carry the babies.
After she voiced concerns about taking care of Gammy’s medical bills, funds started flowing to an online campaign, which has raised $220,000.
Australian authorities are looking into the case, as are Thai authorities, who had already announced they would crackdown on the industry.
“From within the surrogacy community I’ve heard that this has happened before,” said Michaela Stockey Bridge, a researcher from Macquarie University who has been gathering stories about people’s experiences with surrogacy abroad.
“Whenever we have a case like this, it highlights the fact that we need international regulation of commercial surrogacy,” she said. “If there was more counseling, and the intending parents and gestational carrier were able to talk that through beforehand, it wouldn’t come up in this situation — it’s such a sad outcome.”