SYDNEY - The surrogate mother of a baby reportedly abandoned by his Australian parents in Thailand because he has Down Syndrome was a "saint" and "absolute hero", Immigration Minister Scott Morrison said Monday.
Seven-month-old Gammy is being raised by 21-year-old Thai woman Pattaramon Chanbua, who agreed to carry a child for an Australian couple for Aus$16,000 (US$14,900).
Reports said when the pregnancy developed into twins the couple, who have not been identified, took Gammy's healthy sister but not the baby boy, who also has a life-threatening heart condition.
"It is terrible, just absolutely horrible and heartbreaking," Morrison said of the case.
"But I have got to tell you who is an absolute hero in all of this and that is the Thai mother. She is a saint."
Pattaramon, who reportedly agreed to be the surrogate so she could afford education for her older children and pay back family debts, has spoken of her love for the boy.
But she has also admitted she cannot afford to pay for his medical expenses, prompting an outpouring of global goodwill which has raised more than Aus$200,000online for an Australian charity to pay for the infant's care.