Thai surrogacy probe: 21 babies born from eggs donated by women from 8 countries

BANGKOK (THE SUNDAY NATION/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - The eggs used in the artificial fertilisation of 21 surrogacy babies, said to be fathered by a Japanese man in a scandal that broke earlier this month, came from foreign women of different nationalities, a police investigation has found.

The egg donors were Swedish, Spanish, Malaysian, Brazilian, Australian, Israeli, Chinese and American, a police source familiar with the ongoing investigation said on Aug 16.

Of the 21 babies, 12 are male and nine female. They were all born at Bangkok hospitals.

Nine of the babies were born from eggs donated by Spanish women, three of them from Israeli women, two each from Swedish, Brazilian, and Australian women, and one each from Malaysian, Chinese and American women, according to the source who requested anonymity.

It remained unclear how many foreign women donated their eggs to be used in the in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) process or whether any of the women involved had donated more than one egg.

The sperm for the 21 babies were said to come from a 24-year-old Japanese man named Mitsutoki Shigeta, who is wanted by the authorities after nine of the infants - aged from one month to two years old - were found by Thai police on Aug 5 in condominiums owned or leased by the man.

Thai police were investigating the man for possible trafficking offences, after it emerged that he had taken three babies out of the country in the past year, Police General Ek Ungsananont said. The man is believed to have fled the country earlier this month.

The co-founder of an organisation that provides surrogate services in Thailand and other countries has claimed that the man said he wanted to produce between 100 and 1,000 babies, believing it to be "the best thing" he could do for the world.

Ms Mariam Kukunashvili of New Life Global Network said she refused to introduce him to more surrogate mothers, and reported her suspicions to the Japanese embassy and Interpol.

Officials will soon travel to Cambodia after an adviser to the Japanese man invited them to see how well four children apparently fathered by the man are being raised in Cambodia, The Japan Times reported on Aug 16. Shigeta's adviser had sent police photographs of the children in Cambodia which purportedly showed they were in good health, according to assistant national police chief Kokiat Wongworachart. Thai authorities needed to check on them in person, Mr Kokiat said at a news conference in Bangkok.

Metropolitan Police deputy chief Chayuth Thanataweerat urged the Japanese businessman to meet Thai officials to prove he is the father of all the children and to tell officials why he wants to father so many children.

Mr Kokiat said if the father wanted to claim the 12 babies he would need to meet Thailand's legal requirements to do so.

Meanwhile, a senior official of the Social Development and Human Security Ministry said the ministry was providing guardianship for 12 babies, but no decision had been taken on what would eventually happen to them.

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