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Surrogation

Raid on Bangkok clinic linked to surrogacy fiasco

A CLINIC ON Phetchaburi Road in Bangkok was inspected yesterday following tips that it may have arranged the service of a surrogate mother last year, who gave birth to a baby boy born with Down's syndrome left with the Thai mother and a twin girl adopted by an Australian couple.

The head of the Department of Health Service Support Dr Boonruang Triruangworawat, who led the raid, said the unnamed clinic was permitted to provide general medical services, and the doctor who conducted the service was licensed by the Royal Thai College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. But the operation violated two key conditions - the Thai mother was not related to the Australian couple and she received money in exchange for carrying their embryo.

He said the clinic, which had run for five years before closing down recently, had already violated regulations for the two conditions, and the people responsible would face punishment - up to a year in jail and/or a fine of up to Bt20,000 if found guilty by a court.

A probe is underway on whether the 20 or so doctors who took turns working at this clinic are licensed by the Royal Thai College, he said. Those found to have conducted a surrogacy could face up to three years in jail and/or a fine of up to Bt60,000, Dr Boonruang said.

Meanwhile, news agencies said the Thai surrogate mother of the baby with Down's syndrome who was rejected by the Australian couple said yesterday she wanted his twin sister returned - after finding out that the biological father is a registered sex offender.



Shock over father's crimes

"I am in shock after hearing this story," Pattaramon Chanbua was quoted as saying by Australia's Fairfax Media about the news.

"I need help from anyone who can bring my girl back to me as soon as possible," she said. This news makes me sick. I am worried about my baby girl."

It was also reported that the Australian Immigration Minister's office said in a statement that the twin boy in Chon Buri "may be eligible for Australian citizenship". That would allow the baby boy to get free healthcare in Australia.

The 21-year-old Thai woman who gave birth to in-vitro-fertilised twins has said the unnamed Aussie couple refused to take the boy after learning he was born with Down's syndrome, and had a serious heart condition.

The Australian couple hit back yesterday, claiming that the Thai mother had misled the world over what happened, according to a friend of the family.

The couple has come under heavy criticism for apparently rejecting the boy and taking only his healthy twin sister back to Bunbury, south of Perth, from Thailand. The surrogate mother has said she will raise the seven-month-old boy after saying the biological parents at first requested an abortion and then walked away when they learned of his condition.

But the Australian couple said in a statement, issued through the friend to their local newspaper the Bunbury Mail, the allegations were false and they did not know he had Down's syndrome, although they were aware he had a congenital heart condition."[He] 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, a woman, told the newspaper, without saying who told them this.

The birth of the twins was supposed to take place at a major international hospital in Thailand but Pattaramon went to another facility, which made the surrogacy agreement void, according to the newspaper.

This meant that the couple had no legal rights to the babies although the surrogate mother finally agreed to hand over the girl, the report said.

"The biological parents were heartbroken that they couldn't take their boy with them and never wanted to give him up, but to stay would risk them losing their daughter also," the friend said.

She added that allegations that the couple "ignored" Gammy when they visited the hospital were untrue and they had bought gifts for both infants.

"They prayed for Gammy to survive but were told by doctors that he was too sick, not because of the Down's syndrome but because of his heart and lung conditions and infection."

The friend added that the couple spent two months in Thailand but due to unrest at the time, late last year, felt they had no option but to leave without Gammy.

"This has been absolutely devastating for them, they are on the edge," she said.

Pattaramon's mother, Pitchaya Nathongchai who is based in Chon Buri, said yesterday she had contacted a children's foundation for help. The unnamed foundation later approached a TV station to launch coverage about the issue. She said her daughter appreciated all concerns and offers of assistance.

Pitchaya, a food vendor who lives in a rented room with two other grandchildren, said she would only need baby milk, pampers, and a right to low-cost treatment under the universal healthcare and the disabled people's scheme.




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