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"It's gutting": When Trystan and Tanya's baby is born by surrogate overseas, they won't be there.

Trystan Martin, 40 and his wife, Tanya Lunardon, 46, from Melbourne are desperately trying to get to Georgia for the birth of their first baby via a surrogate. Plans to board a charter flight from the Netherlands have now fallen through, leaving them distraught.

After six years of trying for a child and hundreds of thousands of dollars later, COVID-19 restrictions mean they are facing the possibility of not being able to hold their baby when she is born around June 11.

“I have never suffered from anxiety before, but I wake up at 3 o’clock in the morning and think, ‘what can I do, what can I do’. There has got to be another way,” Trystan told Mamamia.

Watch: Mia Freedman speaks to Shannon Garner about her decision to be a surrogate for two gay men on No Filter. Post continues below. 

Video by MMC

Tanya, anxious to be there for the birth, had planned to fly out of Australia on May 19 and Trystan was going to follow her over closer to the birth.

Then COVID-19 hit, and like many other Australians awaiting babies to surrogates overseas, their plans and dreams were shattered.

“In the first week of March we realised COVID-19 was getting serious.  We followed it closely overseas and booked Tanya a ticket and five months of accommodation in Georgia.  So that if it got locked down she would be locked down there,” Trystan explained.

“The night before she was due to fly, Georgia locked it’s boarders.”

The couple were “gutted”.

“We were devastated then.  It was a big decision for Tanya to leave for that long.  It has haunted us for the last two and half months.  Maybe if we’d booked our flight a day earlier, she would have been there.”

Trystan. Image: Supplied.
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They were at a loss as to know what to do and where to turn next but began contacting the Australian government and appealing for help to be able to leave the country on compassionate grounds.

“That’s when it got hectic.  Numerous calls to boarder control and the Department of Foreign Affairs and not knowing where to turn.

I got told our situation didn’t warrant flying on compassionate grounds.  That they would deal with the situation 48 hours before a flight. But we couldn’t get a flight because there were no flights.

About two weeks ago we got approval to leave Australia on compassionate grounds. The Australian embassy for Georgia in Turkey wrote to Georgia to allow us to enter.”

The only flights to get into Georgia are for repatriated citizens.  

Tanya eventually managed to get approval from the Australian Government to leave Australia and flew to London as a base.

Trystan said they hoped to get her a repatriation flight and had tried to get her one from Athens or Rome but had been unable to get her a flight out of London.

He has now spent $9,500 in the last two weeks on flights that were cancelled with Georgian airlines.  

“So full of hope that you keep booking another one.  Then four days later it gets cancelled,” he said.

Tanya’s final bid to be with her baby was to board a charter flight organised by the Australian embassy for Georgia in Turkey from the Netherlands or Minsk.  This has also fallen through. 

“Our surrogate has preeclampsia, which means a potential early delivery and we will miss the birth, which is ultimately what Tanya is desperate to be there for and she will have to do the two weeks isolation when she gets there.

She is a strong woman so she is coping, but regrets going to London in hindsight and is sick of being locked up in an apartment not knowing what is happening, but can’t come back to Australia now because she’d be in two weeks quarantine in a hotel here.

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I can’t fault the agency (in Georgia), they hope the boarders will open and are endeavouring to arrange care in a hospital when the baby is born,” Trystan said.

Babies are able to remain at the hospital for 14 days after birth but will then have to move to another hospital.

“Babies need food and warmth, but they need love and a crying baby left in a hospital without anyone to pick it up is devastating.”

Trystan dreads having to see photos or videos of his baby daughter alone and fears without immediate contact with her parents bonding will be an issue.

“It feels terrible.  I haven’t had a child before, but it is pretty gutting.”

Leigh Campbell and Rachel Corbett speak to Fertility Specialist, Dr Shadi Khashaba about his own journey with surrogacy on the Get Me Pregnant podcast. Post continues below. 

Surrogacy Australia Global Director, Sam Everingham, said since COVID-19 he has been helping 110 Australians trying to get overseas for the birth of their babies, in countries such as the Ukraine, Georgia, the United States and Canada.

About 58 people are still trying to get overseas now.  Four of those couples have had babies already born in the Ukraine, one who is now five weeks old.  The rest are due in the next eight weeks.  Another couple from Melbourne have just arrived in Georgia hoping to meet their two month-old baby.

“It is incredibly stressful for these families. They don’t know who is looking after their newborns.  They have been preparing for the journey to get a child for years.  It has made it really, really stressful for these people.  They are calling me in tears wondering if they will ever see their babies.

Many of the mums can’t sleep at night.  They haven’t slept for days.  Some have gone to Europe hoping they can get to their babies earlier; that hasn’t been the case,” Mr Everingham said.

He praised the Australian government’s efforts to help these families with flights and paperwork, saying they are doing all they can, but operating under difficult circumstances.

Mr Everingham said around 350 Australians travel overseas each year to access surrogates and the numbers are growing by about 10 per cent a year.

“This crisis is a wakeup call that we need to make surrogacy more accessible in Australia.”

Feature Image: Getty.

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