Obituaries

Woman who got attention by giving birth to septuplets dies

Mrs. Frustaci and Sam Frustaci with their three surviving septuplets in 1988.
Associated Press/File
Mrs. Frustaci and Sam Frustaci with their three surviving septuplets in 1988.

SAN DIEGO — Patricia Frustaci, who made national headlines in 1985 when she gave birth to seven children but struggled with the financial and publicity fallout and with the heartache of seeing four babies perish, has died. She was 63.

Mrs. Frustaci, who suffered from pulmonary fibrosis, died Saturday at a San Diego hospital, her eldest son, Joseph, said.

Mrs. Frustaci was an English teacher in Riverside and the mother of Joseph when she gave birth after undergoing fertility treatments. At the time, it was the largest multiple birth in the United States.

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However, the babies were delivered 12 weeks prematurely by cesarean section and had serious problems. One girl was stillborn, and two boys and a girl died within weeks.

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Medical expenses soon topped $1 million. The family sued the fertility clinic and a doctor, alleging wrongful death of four children and negligence that led to problems for the surviving children.

‘‘There is not a day that goes by that we don’t talk about them,’’ Mrs. Frustaci, speaking of the dead children, said in a deposition. ‘‘There is not a day that goes by that I don’t look at their pictures.’’

The clinic settled the suit without acknowledging any wrongdoing. It agreed to pay $450,000 and to provide monthly payments to the surviving children for life. The financial problems, the publicity, and the stress of looking after children who needed round-the-clock care took a toll on Mrs. Frustaci, her son said.

‘‘It was difficult,’’ he said. ‘‘She’s a normal woman thrust into notoriety . . . the overall frenzy took its toll.’’