Magen David Adom emergency services will evacuate four Israeli babies born to surrogate mothers in Kathmandu after a 7.3-magnitude earthquake shook Nepal Tuesday, the head of the group said.
Citing harsh conditions in the Himalayan country and the newborns’ fragile state, parents of the babies who were waiting in a car outside a Kathmandu field hospital appealed to the Israeli government to help bring their children to Israel as quickly as possible.
Magen David Adom director Eli Bin said that doctors and paramedics would depart for Nepal as soon as possible to return the newborns and their parents to Israel.
“The MDA is in contact with the foreign and interior ministries as well as local officials in the disaster area,” Bin said.
“The team is ready to leave and will bring the babies back as soon as we receive the necessary approvals from Israel and Nepal,” he said according to the report.
Israel’s ambassador to Nepal, Yaron Meir, said in a statement Tuesday evening that the embassy in Kathmandu was helping the stranded parents and their newborns reach home.
“We are accompanying them and will continue to work with all relevant parties to ensure that the families can return safely and as quickly as possible to Israel,” Meir said.
The babies and their parents will only be flown back to Israel once they get an okay from Nepalese authorities, Ynet reported.
Doron Mamet, the director of Tammuz, an agency facilitating surrogacy services for Israeli couples in Nepal, told the NRG news website that the preemies and their parents were taken to field hospitals for fear of aftershocks that could damage the agency’s clinic and hospital.
The 7.3 magnitude earthquake struck near the Chinese border between the Nepalese capital of Kathmandu and Mount Everest early Tuesday afternoon, 17 days after a powerful earthquake left more than 8,000 people dead in the country.
Authorities in Nepal said Tuesday that at least 48 people were killed and more than 1,100 injured, while 17 people also died across the border in northern India.
The quake also brought fresh terror to a traumatized Nepal around noon on Tuesday as buildings already damaged in the monster quake last month came tumbling down.
Mamet said that all four of the prematurely born babies were in stable condition and were breathing on their own.
“We’re sitting in car with the heating on in a parking lot outside the hospital with the babies,” one Israeli father, Amit Keren, said.
“We are extremely worried,” Keren said. “All four of these babies were born prematurely and need to be in an incubator, not a car.”
Keren, who said local doctors told him they would need to spend the night in the car, told NRG he was worried that his week-old son Uri, who weighs 1.3 kilos (2.8 pounds), had a fever.
“This is not a sterilized environment, and it’s putting these babies in genuine danger,” he said.
Tammuz also reported that the agency’s surrogate mothers and local staff were safe.
Israeli aid organization IsraAID said it built an emergency neonatal nursery and saved seven newborns in Kathmandu after the quake.
Following last month’s 7.8 earthquake that left more than 8,000 people dead, Israel airlifted 26 newborn babies born to Nepalese surrogate mothers.
Though the practice is controversial, with critics saying it exploits the poverty of women, Nepal has become a destination for people seeking to have children through surrogate mothers.
Under Israeli law, only heterosexual couples can legally have children through surrogate mothers; this leads some homosexual couples and single people to seek help overseas.
Nepal allows surrogacy practices within its borders for foreigners, but prohibits Nepalese women from being surrogate mothers.
Tammuz temporarily relocates Indian or other women to Nepal to serve as surrogates.
The airlifting of the Israeli parents and newborns, as well as a number of late-term surrogate mothers late last month, brought fresh calls for the state to reform its policies on the system.
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.