Strangers around the world are rallying around a Thai woman who has vowed to take care of the newborn boy she carried as a surrogate mother, after she says he was abandoned by his biological parents when he was diganosed with Down syndrome.
According to the surrogate mother the now seven-months-old baby, Gammy, was only born alive after she refused the Australian biological parents’ request that she abort him late in the pregnancy.
Meanwhile the unidentified Australian couple have reportedly taken the boy’s twin sister, who was born healthy, back with them to their home country.
“I felt sorry for the boy,” Pattharamon Janbua, the surrogate mother, told ABCNews. “This is the adults’ fault. Why does he have to endure this when it’s not his fault?”
“I don’t know what to do. I chose to have him, not to hurt him. I love him.”
The Australian couple reportedly paid Ms. Pattharamon, 21, the equivalent of about $12,000 to act as surrogate. She accepted the offer, she says, because she needed the money to pay off debts, and in hopes that she could afford to educate her other two children – a six-year-old and a three-year-old.
However, like many babies with Down syndrome, the boy – named Gammy – has suffered from health complications, including a congenital health condition. He was hospitalized over the past weekend.
Meanwhile Ms. Pattharamon has been left footing the medical bills.
But after her story captured headlines around the world in the past week, thousands of strangers have stepped forward and contributed to a “Hope for Gammy” fund, raising over $200,000 that will be used to take care of the boy.
Pattharamon expressed her surprise and gratitude at the outpouring of support.
“I did not expect this kind of help because since the Australian couple left me with Gammy nobody wanted to help me,” she told Fairfax media.
“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.”
According to Pattharamon, tests early on the pregnancy showed that one of the two babies she was carrying likely had Down syndrome.
However, it wasn’t until much later that the Australian couple reportedly told her that they wanted her to abort the baby.
She refused, saying that an abortion would violate her Buddhist beliefs.
The woman’s plight has captured the attention of authorities in Australia as well as in Thailand, who are reportedly cracking down on the paid surrogacy trade, which often preys upon poor women.
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott the the case is “sad,” and “illustrates some of the pitfalls involved in this particular business.”
Meanwhile, Pattharamon is warning other Thai woman to avoid the siren call of easy cash from foreigners.
“I would like to tell Thai women – don’t get into this business as a surrogate,” she told Fairfax Media. “Don’t just think only for money – if something goes wrong no one will help us and the baby will be abandoned from society, then we have to take responsibility for that.”