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TV Judge Glenda Hatchett will join her son, Charles S. Johnson IV and MomsRising, an organization of more than 1 million mothers and their families, for a candlelight vigil at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles on Friday, June 23, on what would have been the 41st birthday of Kyira Dixon Johnson.

In April of last year, Dixon Johnson, 39, who was married to Judge Hatchett’s son, died at Cedars-Sinai after the scheduled c-section delivery of their second son.

A wrongful death lawsuit alleges that the doctors in charge of Kyira’s care failed to properly respond to her symptoms and adequately treat her when she started bleeding after the birth. When doctors operated on her 10 hours after the birth, they allegedly found three liters of blood in her abdomen. By then, it was too late and she died.

The vigil will take place at 7 p.m. on Friday, June 23 at the intersection of San Vicente Blvd. and Gracie Allen Drive in front of Cedars-Sinai.

“There will come a time when I will have to explain to my sons what happened to their mother,” Charles S. Johnson IV said. “When my sons ask me, ‘Dad what did you do about it?’ I want to be able to show them that we changed the world in honor of their mother and worked to make sure that what happened to their mother never happened to another mother again.”

Judge Hatchett explained, “Her unnecessary death has caused irreparable pain for my family and all that knew her. It is in Kyira’s honor that the #4Kira4Moms vigil will bring to light the thousands of women and families who have suffered in this nation from careless and preventable negligence related to childbirth and pregnancy. Why are women dying from childbirth in the richest country on the face of the globe?! We must bring awareness to this issue and demand solutions! Kyira should be here.”

National Day of Action

In addition to the candlelight vigil, a national day of action targeting lawmakers in California and the U.S. Congress is being planned to call attention to Kira’s death and the 1,200 women who die annually in the U.S. from preventable causes related to childbirth and pregnancy.

As a part of the national day of action, supporters are encouraged to call congressional members in support of H.R. 1318, the Preventing Maternal Deaths Act of 2017, supported by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), the nation’s leading group of physicians providing health care for women. The bill currently has 55 bi-partisan co-sponsors and can be voted out of committee.

A report published in the September issue of the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology found that from 2000 to 2014, the maternal mortality rate for 48 states and Washington, D.C. increased 27%, from close to 19 deaths per 100,000 live births to close to 24 deaths per 100,000 live births. These rates also present overt racial disparities. In the past five decades, Black women have consistently experienced an almost fourfold greater risk of death from pregnancy complications than White women.

Patrisse Cullors, co-founder of Black Lives Matter and Senior Fellow at MomsRising added, “Black lives matter – whether it’s in our communities or in our hospitals.”

“The statistics are simply terrifying: Black women are between three and four times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than white women. These numbers hold true across all education levels, even after controlling for differences in socio-economic status.”

According to the autopsy performed, Kyira’s cause of death was “due to hemorrhagic shock due to acute hemoperitoneum.” She bled internally for 10 hours before she got the care she needed. But it was too late and she died.

California is the only state that has not seen the rate of maternal deaths increase, yet racial disparities still exist and we can do better to save the lives of mothers in California.

The national day of action for Kyira Johnson can be followed on social media using the hashtags #4Kira #4Kira4Moms and #ShameOnCedars.

An online petition can be found here: http://action.momsrising.org/sign/CA_Materal_Mortality_Petition/.

Candlelight Vigil

The vigil will take place at 7 p.m. on Friday, June 23 at the intersection of San Vicente Blvd. and Gracie Allen Drive in front of Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles.

In addition to MomsRising, several groups including Amnesty International, Black Women for Wellness, Black Lives Matter, and dozens of supporters are expected to join Johnson and Judge Hatchett in calling attention to Kyira’s death and the U.S. maternal mortality rate.

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