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Dr Manny's Notes

Dr. Manny: A baby is always a miracle, no matter what the challenges


Gammy, a baby born with Down's Syndrome, is held by his surrogate mother Pattaramon Janbua (not seen) at a hospital in Chonburi province August 3, 2014. According to Pattaramon, his Australian parents, through a local surrogate agency, asked her at her 7th month of pregnancy to terminate it because of his Down's Syndrome but she refused and kept the baby. The Australian parents instead took with them Gammy's twin sister who was born healthy. More than 3 million Thai baht ($93,360) was raised through an online campaign in Thailand in less than a day for the medical treatment of Gammy who suffers from potentially life threatening heart conditions and a serious lung infection, local media reported. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj (THAILAND - Tags: SOCIETY HEALTH) - RTR411O6

As a high-risk obstetrician, my colleagues and I are frequently challenged by a multitude of complicated pregnancies. 

But sometimes nature takes a different course and we, as doctors, must continue to deliver care with compassion and the desire to do the best one can do. 

This is why I am very sad reading the story of the couple from Australia who abandoned their newborn child with Down syndrome in Thailand. 

This couple used a surrogate who is 21 years old to carry their twins. However, after the delivery, one of the children – named Gammy by his surrogate mother – was diagnosed with Down syndrome, or trisomy 21. 

That's when the Australian couple decided to abandon Gammy, taking only the other twin, and leaving the surrogate to care for him. 

How can a mother do that? How can you not feel love and compassion for your child irrespective of what his or her physical problems are? Why would you separate twins which one knows always have a unique connection? 

Children with Down syndrome deserve the love and respect of all of us. There may be challenges associated with raising them, but they are no different than you or I. They feel love and love back – which is one of the most beautiful characteristics of being human. 

Doctors noted that Gammy also has some cardiovascular problems, which occurs in over 30 percent of children affected with Down syndrome. The most common cardiovascular problems are atrioventricular septal defect – a condition characterized by holes between chambers of the heart, and the valves that control the flow of blood between these chambers may not be formed correctly. 

The condition is often treatable and children continue to thrive after surgery. So what is the bottom line? For me it is shock, sadness and disappointment. 

Having a baby is always a miracle, and we should all appreciate the blessing of any child – no matter how many challenges that they may face in the future.

Dr. Manny Alvarez serves as Fox News Channel's Senior Managing Editor for Health News. Prior to this position, Alvarez was a FNC medical contributor. Click here more information on Dr. Manny's work with Hackensack University Medical Center.
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