Charles Johnson and his pregnant wife, Kira, were assured by doctors of Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles her cesarean section birth in 2016 was going to be a routine one.
It, however, wasn’t. She died hours after delivering their second son.
Three years after the tragic incident, Johnson, who has still not come to terms with her death, believes the medical staff could have saved her had they been attentive and taken immediate action when he raised concerns about her condition.
“I just held her by her hand and said, ‘Please look, my wife isn’t doing well.’ This woman looked me directly in my eye and said, ‘Sir, your wife is not a priority right now,’” he narrated to KABC-TV. “It wasn’t until 12.30 a.m. the next morning that they finally took the decision to take Kira back to surgery.”
Kira couldn’t pull through after she was taken back to surgery as her condition aggravated while they were waiting. She reportedly bled internally for about 10 hours and died after delivery.
“When they took Kira back into surgery and he opened her up she had 3 and a half liters of blood in her abdomen from where she’d been allowed to bleed internally for almost ten hours. And, her heart stopped immediately,” Johnson said.
Johnson has since moved to sue the hospital over Kira’s death. Hospital officials refused to comment on the pending case when contacted, KABC-TV reports.
“Cedars-Sinai thoroughly investigates any situation where there are concerns about a patient’s medical care,” it said in a statement.
A widower with two sons, Johnson is also on a mission on preventing other families from experiencing this ordeal.
“I started to do research for myself. I realized, oh my gosh, we are in the midst of a maternal mortality crisis that isn’t just shameful for American standards. It is shameful on a global scale,” Johnson said.
The rate of maternal mortality in the United States is troubling. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 700 women die from complications related to pregnancy or childbirth every year, putting the U.S. in the last place among all developed nations in terms of maternal mortality.
This gets worse for black women as pregnancy-related deaths for them is 3 to 4 times higher than white women.
A worrisome trend, Every Mother Counts alludes this to inadequate healthcare and systematic racism. Educated black women are also not left out. Kira was an entrepreneur, who was fluent in five languages.
A 2016 study by the Brookings Institution showed that Black mothers with advanced professional degrees, such as a master’s degree or higher, have a greater chance of infant mortality compared to white women whose highest education level is the eighth grade.
Johnson, who is fighting for policy changes to mitigate maternal mortality cases, also wants health officials to be held accountable.
“There is a failure and disconnect from the people who are responsible for the lives of these precious women and babies to see them and value them, in the same way, they would their daughters, their mothers, their sisters,” he said.
“If I can simply do something to ensure that I can send other mothers home with their precious babies. Then it’s all worth it.”