The Australian couple at the centre of the baby Gammy controversy says his Thai surrogate mother has misled the world over the situation, and they were told when he was born that the boy had only a day to live.
The couple from Bunbury in Western Australia - David and Wendy Farnell - say they have been traumatised by a messy legal battle and heavy media attention which has portrayed them as heartless.
In a statement to the Bunbury Mail issued through a family friend, the couple said allegations that they abandoned baby Gammy were lies.
“This has been absolutely devastating for them, they are on the edge,” said the family friend.
“Legally they have been told not to say anything but they wouldn’t be able to anyway.”
The friend spoke to the Mail to give the parents a voice during the worst experience of their lives.
She said reports made by Thai surrogate mother Pattharamon Janbua that the couple had requested an abortion when they found out Gammy had Down syndrome, and that they had subsequently abandoned the baby boy, were completely false.
The birth of the twins had been planned to take place at a major international hospital in Thailand.
But Pattharamon had gone to another smaller hospital, which made the surrogacy agreement void, according to the couple.
This meant that the Farnells had no legal rights to the babies, even though they are the biological parents.
The babies were born two months premature due to medical complications. She said the couple was not told that Gammy had Down syndrome, but they were told he had a congenital heart condition.
“Gammy was very sick when he was born and the biological parents were told he would not survive and he had a day, at best, to live and to say goodbye,” she said.
Pattharamon then said she wanted to keep Gammy and give him a proper Thai funeral.
The couple became embroiled in a legal battle to bring home the female twin. The 21-year-old surrogate mother finally agreed to hand the baby girl over, but the couple was terrified she could change her mind.
“All this happened when Thailand was in a military lockdown and very difficult to get around,” the friend said.
“The biological parents were heartbroken that they couldn’t take their boy with them and never wanted to give him up, but to stay would risk them losing their daughter also.
“They prayed for Gammy to survive but were told by doctors that he was too sick, not because of the Down syndrome but because of his heart and lung conditions and infection.”
The Farnells spent two months in Thailand and extended their visas but due to military unrest said they had no option but to leave without Gammy.
Claims from the surrogate mother that the couple had “ignored” Gammy when they visited the hospital were completely untrue, according to the friend.
She said they were not allowed to touch or hold either of the twins.
The couple had bought baby items for both babies, not just the little girl.
David Farnell is a well-known Bunbury electrician. He has three grown-up children, and is believed to have married his second wife Wendy Li in China in 2004.
Earlier today allegations arose that the Australian man had a previous conviction for a child sex offence. The statement did not address those claims.
Media outlets have been camped outside the parents’ South Bunbury home since early Monday morning.
- Fairfax Media