Sunday, 29 November 2015

NZ couple in surrogacy baby mix-up

WELLINGTON - A New Zealand couple who travelled to Thailand to have a surrogate child had their embryos swapped in a mix-up at a fertility hospital and were given someone else's child.

The couple — referred to as Mr and Mrs N — say they love their adopted son "like one of their own" and have become legal guardians after a torturous inter-country adoption process. 

But Mr N said their attempts to find out what happened to their eggs have been met with silence — and intimidation — from the hospital. Mr N is calling on anyone who has been through fertility treatment... 

Mr N is calling on anyone who has been through fertility treatment five years ago in Thailand to check they haven’t been caught up in the mistake. 

The couple went for IVF treatment at the hospital in 2010, and in April 2011, what they thought was their child was born to a surrogate mother. When they went for a DNA test to satisfy New Zealand Immigration... 

The couple were then refused access to the child's birth records by the hospital, which feared negative publicity. They were forced to sign a settlement to get the necessary paperwork to bring the baby... 

Four years later, and with the child, who they have nicknamed "Nemo", finally obtaining New Zealand citizenship, the father finally feels secure that their child cannot be taken from them. 

It is only now they feel they can speak out about their ordeal, in the hope they can find Nemo's biological parents, and also discover if they have a child out there. "I do believe my flesh and blood... 

"I do believe my flesh and blood is out there somewhere. Three embryos don't just disappear." 

The father, who asked not to be named to protect his children’s privacy, said the emotional, physical and financial toll the case has taken on his family has been extreme. 

He recalls hearing that the DNA samples didn’t match. 

"I was like, 'what’s going on here?' Straight away I was on the phone to the lawyers ... they were trying to calm me down. There must have been a mistake." 

Still reeling from the shock, they completed another test — then tried two more DNA testing companies. All the results came back the same. 

He said the family were pressured into striking a deal with the hospital to be paid about 2.8 million baht, and waive any rights to prosecute or sue the hospital. 

"They basically screwed us," he said. "My wife was distraught, she was stuck in Thailand. We were told you can’t prosecute them criminally. They said it was best for our lawyers to step aside, and they... 

"There was a verbal threat made to my wife. They said: ‘I don’t want to revisit this again, and if anything ever comes out about this again, I know people who will make your lives very difficult.'" 

"There was a verbal threat made to my wife. They said: ‘I don’t want to revisit this again, and if anything ever comes out about this again, I know people who will make your lives very difficult.'" 

It is only now they feel they can speak out about their ordeal, in the hope they can find Nemo's biological parents, and also discover if they have a child out there. "I do believe my flesh and blood...

"I do believe my flesh and blood is out there somewhere. Three embryos don't just disappear."

The father, who asked not to be named to protect his children’s privacy, said the emotional, physical and financial toll the case has taken on his family has been extreme.

He recalls hearing that the DNA samples didn’t match.

"I was like, 'what’s going on here?' Straight away I was on the phone to the lawyers ... they were trying to calm me down. There must have been a mistake."

Still reeling from the shock, they completed another test — then tried two more DNA testing companies. All the results came back the same.

He said the family were pressured into striking a deal with the hospital to be paid about 2.8 million baht, and waive any rights to prosecute or sue the hospital.

"They basically screwed us," he said. "My wife was distraught, she was stuck in Thailand. We were told you can’t prosecute them criminally. They said it was best for our lawyers to step aside, and they...

"There was a verbal threat made to my wife. They said: ‘I don’t want to revisit this again, and if anything ever comes out about this again, I know people who will make your lives very difficult.'"

"There was a verbal threat made to my wife. They said: ‘I don’t want to revisit this again, and if anything ever comes out about this again, I know people who will make your lives very difficult.'"

It is only now they feel they can speak out about their ordeal, in the hope they can find Nemo's biological parents, and also discover if they have a child out there. "I do believe my flesh and blood...

"I do believe my flesh and blood is out there somewhere. Three embryos don't just disappear."

The father, who asked not to be named to protect his children’s privacy, said the emotional, physical and financial toll the case has taken on his family has been extreme.

He recalls hearing that the DNA samples didn’t match.

"I was like, 'what’s going on here?' Straight away I was on the phone to the lawyers ... they were trying to calm me down. There must have been a mistake."

Still reeling from the shock, they completed another test — then tried two more DNA testing companies. All the results came back the same.

He said the family were pressured into striking a deal with the hospital to be paid about 2.8 million baht, and waive any rights to prosecute or sue the hospital.

"They basically screwed us," he said. "My wife was distraught, she was stuck in Thailand. We were told you can’t prosecute them criminally. They said it was best for our lawyers to step aside, and they...

"There was a verbal threat made to my wife. They said: ‘I don’t want to revisit this again, and if anything ever comes out about this again, I know people who will make your lives very difficult.'"

"There was a verbal threat made to my wife. They said: ‘I don’t want to revisit this again, and if anything ever comes out about this again, I know people who will make your lives very difficult.'" 
The doctor said they had been unable to contact a couple who had an embryo transfer on the same day as their surrogate, and added "it might not be wise to pursue DNA testing of the couple".

After exhausting all further legal avenues to find out what happened, the father said they had decided to speak out to warn other families who have been through the clinic.

"Any child that went through the clinic since August 2010 could potentially have their eggs mixed up. It could be a sequential mix-up. I would encourage every parent to get a DNA test.

"They can contact us and we will provide a DNA test. When this gets out, every family that's been to this clinic since 2010 is going to ask: ‘Is this my child?'"

New Zealand's Ministry of Social Development director of operational risk international casework Paula Attrill said the case highlighted the "considerable risks" of international surrogacy. "This is a distressing set of circumstances for this little boy and his parents. Throughout, the parents have focused on the welfare and best interests of their little boy." 



Source: http://www.bangkokpost.com