Couple desperate to bring home surrogate baby daughter from Ukraine warzone risk their lives heading to bomb-hit city

A COUPLE who are desperate to bring home their surrogate baby daughter from Ukraine have risked their lives as they head to the bomb-hit country.

Jessica and Kevin Van Nooten have travelled from Australia to be with their premature baby Alba – who is currently in a neonatal intensive care unit in Odessa, Ukraine.

The baby was born on Tuesday night, just hours before Russia invaded and declared war on Ukraine – where their surrogate mother lives.

Desperate Jessica and Kevin packed a bag with the intention of travelling to the warzone, but their flights were diverted because of the conflict.

They boarded a plane on Wednesday, just hours before the Russian bombing started in Kyiv.

The Australian couple had previously exhausted all methods of trying to have their own child – having completed 15 rounds of failed IVF.

They carried on despite facing miscarriages – and they also had to put their plans of surrogacy on halt because of the pandemic.

But Jessica successfully sent her embryos overseas in May 2021 and the surrogate fell pregnant in September.

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Their baby daughter was then born prematurely at 29 weeks in Ukraine – and she is currently being looked after in a neonatal intensive care unit.

And now the conflict has caused even more issues for the new parents, who were determined to go to Ukraine to see their child.

Ms Van Nooten revealed the couple had planned to catch a flight from Melbourne to Ukraine with a stopover in Dubai.

She then received a call directly from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade during the stopover on Wednesday. 

Jessica told ABC Radio Melbourne: "They said to me, 'All flights have been cancelled.'

"And I said, 'We're pretty sure they're still going'."

They eventually got on a flight to Warsaw, Poland – but the couple had "limited options" to what they could do.

But Jessica and Kevin are determined to reach their baby girl in the Ukrainian city.

She said: "There's talk if we can get ourselves to the border we can get a driver to take us, but then someone else said the borders are closed.

"But I think [the agency] will tell us to stay put, so I don't know what we're going to do.

"We just want to get there.

"We've done 15 rounds of IVF, we've used a surrogate, we have a global pandemic, a political war, and now a premature baby — like, what else?"

The surrogacy agency sent Ms Van Nooten a video message with an update on her newborn daughter.

Latest in Ukraine…

  • Ukraine's President  Volodymyr Zelenskyy has refused a US offer to evacuate the Kyiv and vowed to stay and fight
  • Defiant Ukrainian soldiers are using UK missiles to fight off Putin's invasion
  • Putin is unleashing Chechen special forces squad known as the "hunters" as Russia prepares to use "father of all bombs".
  • Amid the chaos a young mother has given birth in a metro station in Kyiv.
  • Russians protesting Putin's violent invasion have scrawled graffiti comparing him to Nazi monster Adolf Hitler.
  • Ukrainian troops managed to recapture a key airport after a botched helicopter assault by the Russians
  • Russia managed to capture Chernobyl power plant – sparking fears of a new nuclear disaster
  • Western sanctions are targeting Russian money as Boris Johnson branded Putin as a "bloodstained aggressor"

She added: "They said our baby is very premature and she's in hospital.

"Her lungs aren't developed … there was a bit of a bleed on her brain, and they also said something about the intestines not being developed.

"But all of this is in line with a premature baby, and they assure us she's getting the best possible care."

Ms Van Nooten said their surrogate mother was also in a hospital receiving care.

Speaking about little Alba, Jessia added: "She's going to be famous I think, she's a very special little girl.

"I just can't wait to bring her home and show her off to everybody."

This comes as the horror continues to unfold in Ukraine as Russian troops reached the suburbs of Kyiv.

Ukrainian Interior Ministry said there was "active fighting on the streets of our city" as the conflict intensified.

This morning, a terrifying video showed the moment a missile smashed into an apartment block in Kyiv.


At least 198 Ukrainians, including three children, have been now been killed and 1,115 people wounded so far since Russia invaded.

Initial reports pinned the blame for the attack on Russia, a claim the country's defence ministry later denied.

Rescuers pulled survivors from the rubble of the block, near an airport in the Ukrainian capital, where Russian forces trying to storm the city are being met with fierce resistance.

Harrowing images from Kyiv show burning vehicles, buildings blasted by missiles and flames lighting up the night sky.

CCTV from a nearby block shows the moment the missile slammed into the building, near Zhuliany airport, on the outskirts of Kyiv.

Petro Prokopov, a firefighter who was taking part in rescue efforts, said the building on the southwestern edge of Kyiv was hit between the 16th and 21st floors.

He said at least six people were injured and 80 people evacuated, as apartments on two floors were gutted by fire.

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