A man is suing Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Beverly Grove after his wife died during childbirth.
In an interview with CNN on Sunday, Charles Johnson says doctors told them now 3-year-old Langston’s birth would be a routine cesarean section.
"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.’ It wasn’t until 12.30 a.m. the next morning that they finally took the decision to take Kira back to surgery,” Johnson said.
As minutes turned into hours, Johnson says he was continually ignored by staff as Kira’s health continued to decline. When she was taken back into surgery and opened up, the doctor found 3 1/2 liters of blood in her abdomen, he said.
Johnson alleges that his wife bled internally for nearly 10 hours, and that her heart stopped "immediately."
He is suing the hospital for the loss of his wife.
With the case pending, the hospital said in a statement that they could not respond directly because of privacy laws but that "Cedars-Sinai thoroughly investigates any situation where there are concerns about a patient’s medical care.”
Kira was a successful entrepreneur who spoke five languages, could fly planes and went skydiving.
She was deemed invincible by her family, making her death that much harder for them to understand.
"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 number of women dying each year due to pregnancy or childbirth in the United States has remained steady and some women remain more at risk of death than others, according to a government report released last month.
In 2018, the year with the most recent national data, a total of 658 women in the United States died while pregnant or within 42 days of the end of pregnancy, according to new data published in the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Vital Statistics Reports released on Thursday.
Maternal death was defined as the death of a woman while pregnant or within 42 days of being pregnant, from any cause related to or aggravated by the pregnancy or the management of the pregnancy.
In 2018, there were 17.4 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births in the United States, according to the report. When that number was broken down by race and age, significant disparities emerged.
The charity Every Mother Counts, which was founded by supermodel Christy Turlington, works across the world on maternal health but also in the U.S. because America is the only developed country with a rising death rate for pregnant or new mothers.
Approximately 700 women in the U.S. die each year for pregnancy-related reasons, according to CDC data.
Every Mother Counts says many of their deaths are because of an unequal health care system and systemic racism.
Public health experts also warn this crisis is not just affecting poor or sick moms but also healthy college educated African American women.
The maternal death rate among black women was 37.1 deaths per 100,000 live births, a rate up to three times the rates for non-Hispanic white and Hispanic women, according to the CDC report.
"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,” Johnson said.
Johnson is pushing for policy changes, raising awareness and trying to hold doctors and hospitals accountable.
"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,” Johnson said.
And he’s also teaching his sons about their mother.
"What I try and do is wake up every day and make mommy proud,” Johnson said.