Gammy saga: 'Surrogate mother wanted to keep him'

David and Wendy Farnell said they wanted to appear on 60 Minutes so Australia could hear their side of the story, before passing judgement on them
David and Wendy Farnell said they wanted to appear on 60 Minutes so Australia could hear their side of the story, before passing judgement on them Channel Nine

The Australian couple accused of abandoning their son because he had Down's syndrome have denied the claims in a TV interview, saying instead that his Thai surrogate mother demanded to keep the child.

Baby Gammy's case sparked international outrage when it was reported that Wendy and David Farnell returned from Thailand with his healthy twin sister but left Gammy behind.

The child, now seven months old, is being treated for a lung infection in a hospital east of Bangkok and also has a congenital heart defect. An international charitable fund has been set up to pay for his care.

Speaking publicly for the first time to Australia's 60 Minutes programme, an emotional Mr Farnell said: "We did not abandon our son."

He and his wife told the programme that the surrogate mother, 21-year-old food stall worker Pattaramon Chanbua, had said she would "get the police" and keep both children if they tried to take Gammy away.

Thai surrogate mother Pattaramon Chanbua holds baby Gammy
Thai surrogate mother Pattaramon Chanbua holds baby Gammy

Mr Farnell explained that the couple had been told Gammy would be born with Down's syndrome before the twins were born, and that at that point they "expected the surrogacy agency to give them a refund and find a solution".

Ms Chanbua offered to keep Gammy instead, the Farnells said, but when the children were born the couple changed their minds and said they wanted both twins.

Today Ms Chanbua admitted to reporters that she had been the one who ultimately refused to let the Farnells take Gammy away - but that she did so because she feared for his welfare.

"I did not allow Gammy to go back with them - that's the truth," she said. "It is because they would have taken Gammy back and put him in an institute."

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Mr Farnell said today that if they had known earlier about Gammy's condition, they probably would have tried to terminate the pregnancy.

"I don't think any parent wants a son with a disability," he said. "Parents want their children to be healthy and happy."

The complicated case, which has focussed global attention on the booming but largely unregulated surrogacy industry in Thailand, became even murkier when it emerged that David Farnell had been convicted in the 1990s of multiple sex offenses against young girls.

Gammy Surrogacy Australia

Mr Farnell, who has three children from a previous relationship, insisted today that his new daughter is not at risk of harm from him.

"I will do everything in the world to protect my little girl," he said. "I have no inclination of doing anything like this. I don't have any thoughts about this at all. That is the 100 percent truth. I cannot do this again."

Topics:  editors picks gammy

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