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Australian Couple Abandon 'disabled baby' With Thai Surrogate

Well-wishers on Friday had raised about $100,000 for a baby reportedly rejected by his Australian parents because they found out he had Down's Syndrome. His parents chose to take his healthy twin sister home while he was left in care of his thai surrogate mother.

Pattaramon Chanbua, 21, from Chonburi province, southeast of Bangkok, agreed via an agent to be a surrogate for the couple for a fee of Aus$16,000 ($14,900), giving birth to twins -- a boy and a girl -- in December, according to press reports.

But when the Australians discovered one of the twin, named Gammy, had Down's Syndrome, they abandoned him in Thailand and returned to Australia with only the healthy girl, Australia's ABC reported.

Pattaramon, who already is a mother of two children, said "The money that was offered was a lot for me. In my mind, with that money, one, we can educate my children, two, we can repay our debt."

But now, she has been given more responsibility to care for the Gammy who also suffers from a life-threatening heart condition requiring expensive treatment she cannot afford, according to ABC.

"I don't know what to do. I chose to have him... I love him, he was in my tummy for nine months," she said in the interview.

According to a Thai newspaper, pattaramon revealed that she has never met Gammy's parents and their identities remain unknown.

"They (the surrogacy agency) told me to carry a baby for a family that does not have children... They said it would be a baby in a tube," she reported.

A spokesman for Australia's foreign affairs department told AFP Canberra was "concerned" by the reports and was in consultation with Thai authorities over surrogacy issues. "The alleged circumstances of the case raise broader legal and other issues relating to surrogacy in Thailand," he said.

Many people travel to Thailand, a popular medical tourism hub, to use its in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) services despite the unclear legal situation surrounding surrogacy.

Tares Krassanairawiwong, a Thai public health ministry official, said it was illegal to pay for surrogacy in Thailand. "Surrogacy can be done in Thailand, but it has to comply with the laws... A surrogate has to be related to the intended parents and no money can be involved."

The news about Gammy's abandonment have triggered hundreds to donate to a fundraising page created for him last week. As of late Friday, the "Hope for Gammy" page had raised more than $98,000. The page which also allows people to air their views, expressed outrage at the disabled boy's abandonment by his biological parents.

One comment read: "May this selfish and heartless couple be exposed and shamed for this horrible neglect!"

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