Death of Pregnant Black Woman, Sha-Asia Washington, Highlights Racial Disparities in Maternal Mortality
The death of Sha-Asia Washington, a Black woman giving birth at a Brooklyn hospital, has prompted protests and petitions highlighting the racial disparities in maternal mortality in the U.S.
Washington, 26, died in labor on July 2 at Woodhull Medical Center. A few days past her due date, she went for a routine stress test to the New York hospital, where doctors gave her medication to induce labor, Rolling Stone reports. Doctors asked Washington if she wanted an epidural, to which she consented after some hesitation.
Things went south soon after, Desiree Williams, the mother of Washington’s boyfriend, Juwan Lopez, told the outlet.
“The next thing you know he’s waiting there and they start running her down the hallway to the operating room,” Williams, who was on FaceTime with her son at the time, said. “He’s just screaming, ‘What happened? What happened?’ And nobody’s answering. Then somebody said the baby’s heart rate started dropping.”
Washington went into cardiac arrest while her baby was delivered via an emergency c-section. The infant Khloe was healthy, but Washington was pronounced dead after doctors spent 45 minutes performing CPR.
Following her death, Washington’s sister-in-law set up a GoFundMe page to help Lopez, now a single father. As of Friday morning, the page had raised nearly $70,000 towards a goal of $20,000.
“Hello everyone shaasia was a beautiful soul,” the description on the page reads. “She passed away giving birth to her beautiful baby girl khloe. She just started her family . Just got her own apartment to be on her own . If you know shaasia she wanted to be a mom and she was gonna be an amazing one . She left behind so many hurt people with this sudden tragic lost. No one was expecting this . So for khloe we will take anything to help Juwan who is now a single dad .”
“WOODHULL HOSPITAL KILLED SHAASIA GIVING HER A EPIDURAL PLEASE HELP US GET JUSTICE,” the description concluded.
Comedian Amy Schumer shared Washington’s story on her Instagram page, writing “Women of color are 12 times more likely to die unnecessarily during child birth in New York City. 4 percent everywhere else. Did you know that? This woman died in Brooklyn at woodhull hospital a few days ago and never met her little girl. #shaasiawashington scream her name. There’s a go fund me for her in my bio but we need to wake up and do better every day.”
According to the CDC, Black women are at least three times more likely to die from pregnancy- and birth-related complications than white women in the U.S. In New York, the number is closer to 12 times more.