A Sydney couple is appealing for help covering a $120,000 hospital bill after the birth of their son, Frankie.
In 2012, Ellice Mol, who was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis at birth, underwent a ‘life-saving’ double lung transplant.
Given her health, the young couple decided it would be unsafe for Ms Mol to carry the child they desperately yearned for.
“This was a huge blow to us emotionally, and it took some time to come to terms with,” they wrote on Go Fund Me.
But we decided that we still wanted to be parents, and if we were able to make embryos via IVF, then we would try to find a surrogate to carry our baby for us.”
The couple said it took them four years to research and find a surrogate.
They were finally introduced to a “remarkable” woman named Kendal from Vancouver.
After taking a few months to get to know the hopeful parents, Kendal offered to carry their baby.
The couple’s frozen embryos were air-freighted to Canada in December 2018.
“We watched in amazement from across the Pacific as it slowly grew into a baby boy throughout a successful pregnancy in Vancouver,” the couple wrote.
“We were so fortunate that Kendal was someone who shared our values and sense of humour and was willing to include us in her experience of the pregnancy.”
However, Kendal’s pregnancy took a turn when Franklin was born in July 2019 - six weeks early.
Luckily, Ms Mol and Mr McGowan were in Canada at the time preparing for his birth.
What was a joyful moment quickly became a dire situation, however, as Frankie’s newborn cries turned into an “abrasive grunting sound”.
Doctors soon discovered that the infant’s lungs had not developed properly.
Early on in the pregnancy, Kendal was diagnosed with a condition called vasa previa, requiring Frankie be delivered via caesarean.
Because of the diagnosis, Frankie was considered to have a pre-exisiting condition, meaning his treatment would not be covered under insurance.
Franklin spent the next week in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), with Ms Mol and Mr McGowan by his side, day and night - costing the couple more than $A16,000 a day in doctors’ fees and bills.
The young family is now $120,000 in debt.
Franklin is entitled to a Canadian citizenship, however, he is not considered to be a resident in Canada.
Ms Mol and Mr McGowan had “comprehensive” travel insurance but it did not cover post-birth care.
In British Columbia, the baby is transferred into the care of its parents immediately after birth, meaning Franklin’s stay was not able to be covered by Kendal’s insurance.
Ms Mol and Mr McGowan decided to make their story public after receiving the final hospital bill.
“We’ve decided to make our story public in the hopes that our friends and family, and perhaps even some kind strangers who we’ve never met, might be in a position to donate to our cause,” the parents wrote on Go Fund Me.
“Regardless of whether we raise money here or not, we will honour our debt to BC Children’s Hospital. We are truly grateful to the staff who worked so tirelessly to deliver our healthy, happy little boy to us.”
The Go Fund Me has raised just over $19,000 since the page was created on October 1.