The mom who made headlines more than three decades ago by giving birth to seven children passed away on Saturday, Feb. 10, according to her eldest son.
Patricia Frustaci, 63, suffered from pulmonary fibrosis and died at a San Diego hospital.
Frustaci gave birth to septuplets in 1985, the largest multiple birth instance in the U.S. at that time.
Frustaci underwent fertility treatment. When she was pregnant, doctors suggested that she undergo an abortion to avoid health problems. She declined because of her faith.
“With our religious background and all we had gone through to have kids, that just wasn’t an option,” Frustaci told The New York Times in 1985.
Patricia Frustaci, who gave birth to the first septuplets born in the United States in 1985, dies at 63 https://t.co/8i0X3ElyNe
— NYT Obituaries (@NYTObits) February 17, 2018
The children were born 12 weeks premature with many complications. One girl was stillborn. Another girl and two boys died shortly after.
The family’s medical expenses ran up to over $1 million. Frustaci sued her fertility clinic for the deaths of her children and the permanent health issues for the children who survived.
The fertility clinic eventually settled the case for $450,000 without admitting wrongdoing. The clinic also agreed to provide monthly payments to the surviving children for life.
“There is not a day that goes by that we don’t talk about them,” Frustaci, speaking of the dead children, said in a deposition, according to Fox News. “There is not a day that goes by that I don’t look at their pictures.”
After the settlement, Frustaci was still plagued by financial problems and stress from looking after the children who needed care at all times. She also had bipolar, according to her son Joseph Frustaci.
Those issues, compounded by an intense media spotlight made it hard for the mom to mourn the loss of her babies.
“Really, all she wanted was to be a mother, and I think the media got in the way, for a time, of her being able to be a loving and nurturing mother,” her son said.
Frustaci had twins in 1990 after using the same fertility drug. Both are now college graduates.
The mom divorced from her husband in the mid-1990s and lived with her eldest son and his family since.
One of the surviving septuplets, a girl, is now happily married and has two children of her own. Of the others, one boy is living alone. Another boy lives with his father, Frustaci’s eldest son said.
“She was the funnest person I’ve ever known,” Frustaci said. “She made regular, mundane errands an adventure.
“We miss her terribly, we miss her deeply,” he added.