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Thai hospital says baby Gammy has no life-threatening heart disease

Published on Aug 6, 2014 10:13 AM
Thai surrogate mother Pattaramon Chanbua holds her baby Gammy, born with Down syndrome, at the Samitivej hospital, Sriracha district in Chonburi province on Aug 4, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP

BANGKOK - A cardiology expert has confirmed that a surrogate baby born with Down syndrome and caught in an abandonment scandal has no life-threatening heart disease as reported earlier.

Bangkok Post quoted Samitivej Siracha Hospital spokesman Wijit Panayingpaisarn as saying that baby Gammy has a strong and healthy heart, contrary to media reports that he has a life-threatening congenital heart disease that could kill him at any time.

Mr Wijit said the boy was first brought to the hospital because he had difficulty breathing, adding that his condition improved daily after he was admitted, the newspaper reported.

"He has pneumonia which is quite a normal ailment for children of this age," said Mr Wijit, adding that he is now almost cured.

"We had a cardiology expert run a check on his heart and we are happy to say he has no heart disease to worry about,'' Bangkok Post quoted him as saying.

The reports of Baby Gammy's supposedly severe condition prompted donations that have poured in from the public.

Baby Gammy was born in December to a 21-year-old food vendor Pattaramon Chanbua in central Thailand. His surrogate mother claims that his Australian biological parents abandoned him while taking his healthy twin sister back to Western Australia. This claim has been disputed by the couple.

Thai officials have launched a probe in the wake of the outcry over baby Gammy . They are checking surrogacy clinics and physicians to make sure they are registered, and in particular, identify the parties involved in the controversial case, local media reported.

The Nation reported on Wednesday that a clinic on Phetchaburi road in Bangkok was inspected on Tuesday following tip-offs that it may have arranged the surrogacy service involving baby Gammy.

The head of the Department of Health Service Support, Dr Boonruang Triruangworawat, who led the raid, said the unnamed clinic was permitted to provide general medical services, and the doctor who conducted the service was licenced by the Royal Thai College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.

But the operation violated two key conditions - the Thai mother was not related to the Australian couple and she received money in exchange for carrying their embryo. The clinic had operated for five years before closing down recently.

Dr Boonruang said the people responsible would face punishment - up to a year in jail and/or a fine of up to 20,000 baht (S$776) if found guilty by a court, according to The Nation.

A probe is underway on whether the 20 or so doctors who took turns working at this clinic are licenced by the Royal Thai College, he added. Those found to have conducted a surrogacy could face up to three years in jail and/or a fine of up to 60,000 baht, he said.