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Bangkok: Thai authorities have raided a Bangkok clinic linked to the baby Gammy scandal, as the Thai agent who brokered the surrogacy agreement said there was “confusion” when it became known the boy had Down syndrome.
“It was just, just nobody knew what to do,” said Kamonthip Musikawong, who was the go-between for Gammy’s Thai surrogate mother and the biological Australian parents.
Amid claims and counter claims about the case, Ms Kamonthip said the mother, Pattharamon Janbua, and Bunbury parents David and Wendy Farnell could not reach agreement in the late stage of the pregnancy and for one month after the births as the premature and unwell babies remained together in a Bangkok public hospital.
“We had to leave everything up to the couple … we just couldn’t find a solution,” Ms Kamonthip, who is known as “Joy”, told the ABC.
“We just didn’t know, if this happened, what we are going to do … until the surrogate came up with a solution … we, just like, I was very impressed with her solution,” she said.
Asked what the solution was, Ms Kamonthip replied: “She said 'I will take the dumb baby but not the … I will take the boy. Like, nobody need to worry,' ” according to a transcript of the interview published by the ABC’s 7.30 program.
“One day the couple told me they just couldn’t take it any more. They wanted to go home,” Ms Kamonthip said.
Ms Kamonthip spoke to the ABC on the condition of anonymity.
She told Fairfax Media in an email message to get her comments on the case from the ABC interview, and did not request anonymity.
Sam Everingham, director of Families Through Surrogacy, an organisation that runs best-practice conferences for surrogacy, said Gammy’s case “showed the need for couples to be counselled before they go into any surrogacy, to ensure they know the risks they may be faced with that could lead to these solutions”.
Surrogacy experts say there have been similar cases where intending parents have refused to take disabled children overseas.
Ms Kamonthip’s IVF Parenting website has closed and she has not been answering her telephones since Fairfax Media revealed Gammy’s plight last week.
Ms Kamonthip’s relationship with Ms Pattharamon has broken down, as the Thai mother claims she is still owed money from the surrogacy.
Earlier Ms Pattharamon claimed the Farnells told the agent they could not take Gammy to Australia because they were too old to care for the twins.
She said Mr Farnell “came to the hospital to take care of the girl but never looked Gammy in the face or carried him”.
Boonruang Triruangworawat, head of Thailand’s Department of Health Service Support, told Thai journalists he led a raid on a clinic in central Bangkok that was linked to the Gammy case.
He said the clinic was permitted to provide general medical services and the supervising doctor was licensed by the Royal Thai College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.
But Mr Boonruang said the clinic violated two key conditions – the Thai mother was not related to the Australian couple and she received money for carrying their embryo.
He said the clinic, which is now closed, and the people who ran it could face up to a year in jail or fines.
Up to 20 doctors who worked at the clinic could face three years in jail if they were found to have conducted an illegal surrogacy, he said.
The names of the doctors were being sent to the Medical Council of Thailand for investigation.
Thailand’s strict military rulers have ordered a crackdown on the booming surrogacy and IVF gender selection industry in Thailand, leaving dozens of Australian couples who have surrogacy arrangements in Thailand facing an uncertain future for their babies.
Medical officials declared last week that altruistic surrogacy will be allowed only where a married couple cannot conceive a child and engages a blood relative to carry their child.
Any arrangement where money is provided to the surrogate to carry the child was illegal, they said.
And any foreigner removing a child from their mother to another country without permission from Thailand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs would face prosecution under human trafficking laws.
A spokesperson for Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs said the legal position of surrogacy arrangements in Thailand remains unclear, as a draft surrogacy bill has remained under review in Thailand’s parliament for four years.
“Australian government agencies are examining these issues closely in consultation with authorities in Thailand,” the spokesperson said.
“We estimate around 200 Australians enter into commercial surrogacy arrangements in Thailand each year.”