Canadian parents were able to rescue their baby, born to a Ukrainian surrogate, thanks to an emergency evacuation in the middle of a war zone in Kyiv.
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“The war started, and then her baby was born. They couldn’t get him,” says Bryan Stern, who risked his life to return the baby to his parents by going to the Ukrainian capital.
He told us his trip live from Ukraine, not without difficulties as the phone line was almost dead.
Mr. Stern is co-founder of the DYNAMO Project, an American foundation dedicated to the evacuation of Americans and their allies from conflict zones around the world.
On Thursday and Friday, the foundation sent a team including Mr. Stern and a doctor to evacuate Aari, a newborn baby aged just eight days.
Aari’s parents, who are Canadian, had used a Ukrainian surrogate to give birth to her. Ukraine is one of the few countries where heterosexual foreign couples can use a surrogate mother.
But when war broke out, the distraught parents contacted the DYNAMO project because even the Canadian government couldn’t save their baby in Kyiv, Stern says.
“They asked us for help. When you’re a parent and your baby is in a war zone, it’s awful,” he says.
Mr. Stern and his team made their way to the Ukrainian capital to carry out this dangerous operation. “It’s Kyiv, so there are missiles, bombs, Russians,” he enumerates. People get killed there every day.”
The parents, for their part, were expecting their baby in a city in the west of the country that had been spared by the Russian offensive. Mr. Stern witnessed the euphoric moment when they first met their little boy.
“The parents couldn’t hide their joy when they saw the newborn baby they had been waiting for for a very long time,” he says. They were in ecstasy and couldn’t believe we could help him.
The operation was successfully completed on Friday when the new family was escorted to the border with Poland.
This is the third baby the foundation has been able to bring from Ukraine after evacuating premature twins by ambulance earlier this month. Since the beginning of the war, it has evacuated a total of 215 men, women and children in 20 operations.
500 babies like that
Mr. Stern and his team recovered the infant from a makeshift clinic in the heart of downtown Kyiv.
The New York Times, which recently reported on such a clinic, put the number of currently pregnant surrogates for foreign clients in Ukraine at 500.
The country is said to have the largest surrogacy industry in the world. Its success can largely be explained by poverty, with each woman typically receiving $15,000 per child.