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In 2014, the world was captivated by baby Gammy's story. This is his life now.

The world knew him as baby Gammy, the boy with Down syndrome, left with an impoverished surrogate mum in Thailand, while his twin sister was flown home to Australia.

That baby is now a healthy boy called Grammy, turning six, who lives with his family in a nice house and attends a school that caters for his additional needs.

WATCH: Baby Gammy’s Australian parents tell 60 Minutes what it’s like to be ‘the most hated couple in Australia’. Post continues below.

Video via Channel 9

“He’s a normal little kid who’s obviously got some challenges but is doing really well,” Peter Baines, founder of Australian charity Hands Across The Water, tells Mamamia. “Physically, he looks great. He’s healthy. His speech is very limited but he interacts. He’s in a family who clearly love him and they’re doing well.”

Grammy and his family live a quiet, settled life now. But things were very different when he was a baby.

Gammy and his twin sister Pipah were born in December 2013 to a young Thai woman, Pattaramon Chanbua, who already had two children of her own with her husband. A Western Australian couple, Wendy Li and David Farnell, had paid Chanbua to be a surrogate, using Farnell’s sperm and donor eggs.

In February 2014, Li and Farnell took Pipah back to Australia with them. But they left Gammy, who had Down syndrome as well as some serious health issues, in Thailand.

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Baby Gammy with his mother, Pattaramon Chanbua, in 2014. Image: AAP.
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The case created outrage when it hit the news in July 2014. Chanbua, speaking to the ABC, said the Australian couple had asked her to abort Gammy when they’d found out he was disabled. She said she’d refused because it was sinful, but after the twins were born, the couple had rejected Gammy. However, Farnell, contacted by the ABC, claimed he and Li had only been told about the baby girl.

Chanbua said she couldn’t afford medical treatment for Gammy, who she said had a hole in his heart. A GoFundMe page was set up to raise money for him, and it quickly drew well over $200,000 in donations, most of the money from Australians.

When it was revealed that Farnell was a convicted sex offender who’d been jailed for three years for molesting young girls, the public outrage exploded. The couple gave an interview to 60 Minutes where Farnell claimed they hadn’t “abandoned” Gammy, but had left Thailand because Chanbua had threatened to take back Pipah.

“The surrogate mother wanted to take our girl,” Farnell said. “We were scared we were going to lose her. We had to try and get out as fast as we could.”

Despite his record as a child sex offender, Farnell insisted he would never hurt Pipah.

“She will be 100 per cent safe because I know that I will do anything in the world to protect my little girl. I know that I do not have any urges of this nature at all.”

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Wendy Li and David Farnell. Image: Channel 9.
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Li and Farnell weren’t paid for their interview, but 60 Minutes made a donation to Hands Across The Water, which was managing the money donated to Gammy.

When Chanbua found out that Farnell was a child sex offender, she applied to the WA Family Court to have Pipah returned to her. In April 2016, Chief Judge Stephen Thackray decided that Pipah should not be removed “from the only family she has ever known”. But he added that Pipah was assessed as “not safe alone in the company of Mr Farnell”, due to the risk of grooming.

Justice Thackray found that Li and Farnell had not abandoned Gammy, saying that during the pregnancy, Chanbua had “fallen in love with the twins she was carrying and had decided she was going to keep the boy".

However, he also found that the couple had lied under oath, claiming that the eggs were Li’s when they were, in fact, donor eggs.

In 2017, the ABC reported that Gammy – whose parents had decided to change his name to Grammy – had started kindergarten. He still wasn’t able to speak, but his teacher, Walailuck Krajangsri, said he listened to stories.

"He remembers right away what I teach him and doesn't have problems socially,” his teacher added.

It’s now five-and-a-half years since the story of baby Gammy broke. The media spotlight has long gone, but he and his family are still benefitting from the donations made by Australians.

Baines explains that the money assisted Gammy in the early days “when his health was in a dire condition”, and has also helped with other medical, school and living expenses. Around half of the $235,000 went into buying a house for Gammy and his family to live in.

“It’s really nice to go there and see the home that they’re in and the pride that they have,” Baines says. “When I first started with them they lived in what we would call modest conditions, even for Thais. It was right on the street and it was pretty ordinary and that was never conducive to good health for anyone. Now they live in this really nice house.”

Hands Across The Water, which Baines founded following the Boxing Day tsunami in 2004, is helping other young people in Thailand. It’s currently supporting 350 children in seven homes across the country.

As for Grammy and his family, Baines feels that their future is looking positive. Grammy will continue to be educated at the private school that caters for his additional needs. The house is in trust to Grammy till he turns 21, and Baines says it “provides security for the future”.

“Will they be okay? Yeah, absolutely,” he says.

Feature image: Facebook/Hands Across The Water page and Getty. 

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