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Expecting mother Kira Johnson was all smiles in the moments before she walked into the operating room at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center to deliver her baby.
She kissed her oldest son’s forehead and then bid her husband good bye the afternoon April 12, 2016, a day that should have been one of the happiest of their lives. Instead, Johnson’s family was forced to grapple with tragedy.
Johnson died about 12 hours after having a scheduled cesarean section at the renowned Los Angeles hospital. The procedure took just 17 minutes, ending with the birth of her son, Langston. While the newborn was perfectly healthy, his mother almost immediately seemed unwell.
In a civil lawsuit filed on Wednesday, her husband, Charles Johnson, alleged that his wife bled to death because of a culture of of racism at Cedars-Sinai.
“There’s no doubt in my mind that my wife would be here today and be here Sunday celebrating Mother’s Day with her boys if she was a Caucasian woman,’’ Johnson said at a news conference outside the hospital.
Despite clear signs that she’d been bleeding internally, Johnson was left waiting — suffering even — as she awaited her turn to go back into the operating room. Charles said he repeatedly pleaded with staff to give his wife a CT after he noticed blood in her catheter, but that he was repeatedly brushed off by medical personnel. He recalled speaking with one nurse, in particular.
“She said, ‘Sir, your wife just isn’t a priority right now,’” Charles remembered.
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By the time Johnson made it back into an operating room, it was already too late. She died with three liters of blood in her abdomen, according to the lawsuit. Her bladder had been lacerated and she hadn’t been sutured properly.
The family’s attorney, Nicholas Rowley, slammed doctors’ work as “sloppy” and equated the procedure to “butchery.”
“It shocked everybody that we deposed, all the health care providers, even the head of (obstetrics) here, the head of labor and delivery, looked at it and said ‘No, I’ve never seen one done that fast,’” he said of the speedy C-section.
Cedars-Sinai has pushed back against the allegations and rejected “any mischaracterization of our culture and values.’’
“We are actively working to eradicate unconscious bias in health care and advance equity in health care more broadly,’’ it said in a statement. “We commend Mr. Johnson for the attention he has brought to the important issue of racial disparities in maternal outcomes.’’
The case is set to go to trial next week.
With News Wire Services