Doctors Put Off Release Date of First Septuplet

Times Staff Writer

The first-born Frustaci septuplet will not be released from Childrens Hospital of Orange County today because she has not gained as much weight as doctors expected, a hospital spokesman said Tuesday.

Fourteen-week-old Patricia Ann Frustaci could be sent home with parents Patti and Sam Frustaci of Riverside by the middle of next week, "but probably no earlier," said spokesman Doug Wood. The two other surviving septuplets probably will not be sent home for about a month, he said.

Babies must weigh between 4 1/2 and 5 pounds before they are released from the hospital's neonatal unit, Wood said. Officials at the Orange hospital last week began planning a press conference for Patricia Ann's release today.

Insufficient Weight Gain

Wood said that doctors decided on Tuesday against sending the infant home. . Although she suffered no setbacks, doctors had projected a weight gain, "but it doesn't look like she will get there," Wood said.

In addition, he said, plans for a press conference with the parents when the baby is released have been scrapped. Wood said that the Frustacis' attorney has informed the hospital that the family's contract with People magazine precludes them from participating in "any interview situation," including a press conference. Instead, there will be only a "photo opportunity" when the baby leaves the hospital, although doctors will be available for comment.

Patti Frustaci gave birth to three girls and four boys 12 weeks before term at St. Joseph Hospital on May 21 after taking fertility drugs. The seventh baby, a girl, was stillborn, and three more infants died of lung disease within the next three weeks.

Less Than 2 Pounds at Birth

All of the babies weighed less than two pounds at birth. The six who survived the birth suffered from hyaline membrane disease, a common affliction among premature babies that makes their lungs tend to collapse after each breath because they lack a substance to keep the air sacs open.

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