Officials seek test-tube agent in surrogate scandal

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 21 December, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 21 December, 2011, 12:00am


Guangdong family planning authorities are trying to track down a test-tube baby agent who helped a wealthy Guangzhou couple get eight babies with the help of two surrogate mothers.

The Guangzhou Daily reported on Monday that a tycoon's wife and two surrogate mothers gave birth to eight babies - four girls and four boys - between September and October last year with the help of an in vitro fertilisation agent. The report said the couple, who had failed to have their own babies for many years, were exultant when told that all eight test-tube embryos had survived and decided to give birth to all of them.

It said the tycoon's wife received three of the embryos and the other five were implanted into two surrogate mothers. The case was only exposed when a photography studio displayed a photo of the eight babies as an advertisement early this month.

The couple, who live in a luxury villa in Panyu, Guangzhou, hired 11 people to take care of the babies. Test-tube baby agents said the couple probably spent around 1 million yuan (HK$1.22 million) to give birth to the eight babies, and would be spending 100,000 yuan a month to take care of them.

Zhang Feng, director of the Guangdong family planning committee which is responsible for implementing the country's one-child policy, said the couple had violated regulations and could face punishment and fines.

Zhang told The Southern Metropolis News yesterday that Ministry of Health regulations strictly prohibited surrogate pregnancy on the mainland, and couples who used technology to evade its one-child policy would be subject to heavy fines.

'Regional regulators should seize [the couple] and health authorities should crack down on the hospital that provided surrogate pregnancy,' Zhang said.

In Hong Kong, commercial surrogate pregnancy is also prohibited. Last year, Peter Lee Ka-kit, the son of tycoon Lee Shau-kee, was placed under investigation by the police after paying a US-based surrogate mother to give birth to triplet sons.

Medical expert Dong Yuzheng said the Panyu case reflected the parents' money-driven values. 'Fertilisation technology has been abused,' he said. 'The couple paid the money and got as many children as they wanted. But it's wrong.'