LOS ANGELES – A man is suing Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles after his wife died during childbirth.
Charles Johnson said doctors told them now 3-year-old Langston’s birth would be a routine C-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 critical minutes turned into hours, Johnson said he was continually ignored by staff as Kira’s health continued to suffer.
He is suing the hospital for the loss of his wife, and 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.
"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 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 US die each year of pregnancy-related causes, according to the CDC.
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.
"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 teaching his sons about their mother.
"What I try and do is wake up every day and make mommy proud,” Johnson said.