'Moral responsibility' must determine fate of baby abandoned in Thailand
Australia's Immigration Minister Scott Morrison said yesterday a question of "moral responsibility" should determine the fate of a baby born with Down's syndrome, reportedly abandoned by an Australian couple with its surrogate mother in Thailand.
Morrison's comments came as funds raised online by an Australian charity to pay for the baby's medical care rose above US$190,000 after a flood of international goodwill over the infant's plight.
The boy, Gammy, and a twin sister were born to Thai woman Pattaramon Chanbua in December after she was reportedly paid A$16,000 (HK$115,520) to be a surrogate.
An unnamed Australian couple took the sister, who was healthy, but left Gammy behind, according to media reports.
The baby boy also suffers from a life-threatening heart condition, and 21-year-old Pattaramon had earlier said she could not afford to pay for the medical treatment he needs.
"This is an absolutely heartbreaking story, it really is," Morrison told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
"This may fall more into the territory of what people's moral responsibilities are here. I note there was a comment earlier that the mother of this child, baby Gammy, wants the child to remain in Thailand and that mother's wishes also have to be absolutely respected."
Pattaramon's mother, 53-year-old Pichaya Nathonchai, said Gammy had been in a private hospital in Chonburi province, about an hour from Bangkok, since Thursday and his condition was "improving".
"He is a quiet, calm boy. His mother and I are taking turns to see him at the hospital," Pichaya said, adding her family was relieved donations were coming in.
"Although we have benefited from the 30 baht [HK$7.23] health scheme, it does not cover everything he needs," she said, referring to Thailand's universal health care scheme.
Peter Baines, the founder of Hands Across the Water, the charity managing the donations, said Gammy was in the hospital, as he was "still very ill and suffering from a lung infection at the moment".
He said the donations had far exceeded the initial US$25,000 target, and he would be flying to Thailand from Australia in the next few weeks to coordinate how the money was used to fund Gammy's health care and his family's needs.
"I'll meet with the family and then we can meet with our representatives on the ground and get a good understanding of what those needs are over the next six months, and then three years, and then beyond," Baines said.
Pattaramon told Fairfax Media late on Saturday she wanted to take care of the boy in Thailand, saying: "I'll take care of Gammy on my own. I'll not give my baby to anybody.
"I don't really think too much about the Australian couple. I can't blame them. I don't feel upset or angry about them anymore," she added.
"They might have their own problems, too."