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& # 39; A river of blood: & # 39; A mother describes her near-death experience in the delivery room

Ayanna Smith got her third son on New Year's Eve at 13:05. She did not know that one of her happiest moments would become one of her scariest.

"Shortly after he came out, I remember feeling extremely dizzy," Smith said. "It became extremely clear and I saw stars everywhere, I only remember they put it on me, I just told them:" I can not move, I could not move anything. "

Her mother, Sandra Smith, remembered the horror of looking from the delivery room.

"You went out of this euphoria to see how this little person came out," she said. "Then suddenly you see a river of blood."


Sandra Smith saw how the doctors removed her grandson from his mother's arms. She watched her daughter appear spooky; her lips were purple. At that moment she realized that the birth was terrible.

An emergency blood transfusion has helped save Ayanna's life.

Ayanna is not the only one

Ayanna Smith is one of 50,000 women who die almost every year as a result of childbirth. That is a mother every 10 minutes in the United States.

The causes of most near-death emergencies can be prevented. However, the risk of complications is much greater for black women.

"If you are black and well-educated, you still have a higher risk of pregnancy-related mortality than the least-developed white woman," said Dr. William Callaghan, head of the Maternal and Infant Health department of the Centers for Disease Control. "It is amazing, the only difference is the color of a person's skin."


Ayanna felt that her medical team assumed she would be like everyone else and missed the warning signs of her condition.

"If they had checked the charts, or if I had one consistent doctor, if this was a way of noticing that this was [my] issue – be careful, be careful, they would have been better prepared when I came in than I had to solve the problem after it had already happened, "she said.

Some medical professionals do not agree that racism is the fault.

"We have an enormous African American patient population and I have no doubt that we give them exactly the same care as everyone else," said Dr Sujatha Reddy, a specialist in women's health.

About 800 mothers per year do not survive the delivery.

Kira Johnson was one of them. She died 12 hours after she gave birth to her second son from a bleeding.

"When this happened to me – when my wife died of a preventable cause in connection with childbirth, I thought Kira was an anomaly," said Charles Johnson, Kira's husband.

kira johnson and baby charles _1539796119464.png.jpg

The couple had their first child, baby Charles, about a year before their spontaneous wedding in Mexico. (Photo: Courtesy of Family)

In the two years after Kira & # 39; s death, Charles learned the tragic truth.

"In a country that is the richest, most prosperous country in the world, it is absurd," he said.

Losing a dream

Ayanna survived the birth, but lost something else in the delivery room. She always dreamed of ever having a girl.

"She and her husband did not decide, they do not go because of what happened afterwards, that crushed me because I know my daughter wants a daughter and knows she will not go through … it's not fair, & # 39; Ayanna & # 39; s mother Sandra said.

"I do not want to try again," Ayanna said. "I think it has touched my husband a lot more, because I think he will not let me give birth again … If we wanted a girl, I do not know if we are going through that experience again."

Fight for change

April 12 is the birthday of Kira and Charles Johnson & # 39; s youngest son. It will also be remembered as the day on which Kira died.

Charles knows that one day he has to tell his sons how their mother died.

"I expect that after we have had the conversation … my sons will ask me:" Dad, what did you do about it? " he said.

"It's important to me that I can look them in the eye and say:" Son, you know we lost, but they did not win. "This is the work we did. from your mother This is why other people do not have to worry about what we have experienced and that is what is important to me. "

In order to change something, Charles held lobbying at the Congress last year to approve two bills: HR1318 and the MOMS law.

HR 1318 directs the Department of Health and Human Services to establish programs for assessing maternity-related deaths in all states, the so-called Mother Mortality Review Committees (MMRCs).

These groups look for answers about the cause of a mother's death. They also investigate what could have prevented her from dying. This information helps to create action plans that seek solutions to prevent it from happening with another mother.

Under HR 1318, states should develop procedures for mandatory reporting to health departments.

"We can assess every mortality and ensure that the death of every woman counts and there is a lesson in improving quality," said Dr. William Callaghan. "We will be able to understand where things went wrong in her care."

The MOMS law is a bill that helps states and hospitals finance programs that are aimed at reducing pregnancy-related deaths.

Kira's mother-in-law, judge Glenda Hatchett of the reality TV show, said she is proud of the work her son is doing.

"I know that lobbying that will save Charles lives," she said. "That will make a difference – there will be other families who will not know the pain we have known, who do not have to explain to a child that his mother never comes home, will have to explain when you say:" I want to go to heaven because I want to see my mother. & # 39; It is … no family should endure this. "

At the moment, both dual accounts seem to have stalled on Capitol Hill. Charles Johnson said he will not stop fighting.

"My philosophy is to wake up, make mum proud, repeat, that's it, and that's how I do it every day, day after day," he said.

Here is a link to find your Congressmen if you want to reach them over the accounts.

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