Surrogacy doc ‘performed tons of procedures’

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Bangkok -

The doctor who oversaw the fertility treatment in a Thai-Australian surrogacy that led to a bitter row has been involved in hundreds of procedures, Thai authorities said on Thursday.

“I do not know the exact number this doctor has performed but it's in the hundreds,” said Boonrueng Trireungworawat, permanent secretary of the Ministry of Public Health.

The Thai doctor was not named.

Pattharamon Jhubua last week said Australian couple David and Wendy Farnell had paid her to have their child but abandoned one of the twins after she gave birth in December.

The couple, who returned to Western Australia with the twin girl, have denied knowingly abandoning her brother Gammy who has Down's syndrome.

The case sparked a public outcry, and donations have poured in for the medical treatment Gammy reportedly needs.

Pattharamon demanded the girl be returned to her when it emerged on Monday that father David Farnell, 56, is a convicted child sex offender.

In Australia, child protection service also began trying to trace the couple. Western Australian Child Protection Minister Helen Morton told broadcaster ABC authorities made phone contact with the Farnells on Thursday.

She said authorities would speak to everyone involved in making a safety assessment of the twin girl. Morton also asked for the family to be given their privacy so that the process could be completed.

The broadcaster earlier quoted Morton saying: “We are also interested in the child in Thailand... for possible adoption and foster care for that child.”

More details of Farnell's convictions emerged late Wednesday after the Supreme Court released records to media.

In 1997 he was jailed for three years on 18 counts of sexual assault against two girls, aged 7 and 10, in 1982 and 1983.

In 1998, he was convicted on four counts of sexual assault involving a girl under 13. The then-married father of three children was sentenced to a total of four years and eight months.

Thai law permits surrogacy only between family members or close friends, where feasible. The law forbids the selling or renting of womb space for monetary gain.

Boonreung said most of the cases involving illegal surrogacies in Thailand have stemmed from one clinic in central Bangkok. The clinic was one of several being investigated.

“While surrogacy is not illegal in Thailand, it is illegal for these clinics to offer these procedures without authorisation from the ministry,” he said.

He added that the owner of the clinic will face charges of medical malpractice and could face up to one year in jail.

Farnell's son was quoted on Thursday by Fairfax media, saying: “He's made mistakes. We've accepted it,... he's made up for it.”

The report said the son declined to be named.

Pattharamon and Gammy on Wednesday left Samitivej Sriracha hospital in Bangkok where the infant was reportedly treated for an infection.

Her father Prasong Natongchai told dpa she was resting at an undisclosed location and was “extremely upset with the news media,” noting that some of the reporting had been “untrue,” he said. - Sapa-dpa



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