Tell Congress to end preventable maternal deaths in America
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On June 28, 2016, after eleven hours of labor, my husband and I welcomed our second daughter, Ava. After she and her father were led into the recovery room to wait for me, I started to feel like I was drowning. I told the nurse I couldn't breathe and begged them to save me. Lots of machines started making scary noises. Everything went white.
Ten hours later, I woke up intubated in the ICU. I had suffered flash pulmonary edema, a life-threatening complication of pre-eclampsia. After doctors rushed to flush the fluid out of my lungs, I still couldn't breathe. My anesthesiologist made the life-saving decision to intubate me. As he was preparing the intubation, the nurses lost my pulse. I had gone into cardiopulmonary arrest. I was a Code Blue in the ICU.
My husband watched forty doctors run across the floor to my bedside. For twenty seconds, I was gone. For those twenty seconds, my husband was a single dad to our two young daughters. For those twenty seconds, my parents lost their only child. For those twenty seconds, my children lost their mother. For those twenty seconds, I was another statistic in the staggering rise of the maternal mortality rate in the U.S.A. - the only industrialized nation with a rising maternal mortality rate.
My anesthesiologist saved my life. Had he been even a minute too late with the intubation, I wouldn't be here typing this today. For the next 48 hours, I fought for my life in the ICU and finally met my baby on the eve of my 34th birthday. In truth, the fight had only begun. The road to recovery was laden with triumph, self-doubt, and shame that I upset so many people by almost dying. I was plagued with guilt for not having been able to thwart this deadly, non-discriminatory disease. I had the best care. I did all the right things. I followed my doctors' orders. But for twenty seconds, none of that mattered. Who would comfort my survivors by telling them "she did all the right things and had the best care"?
Last March, I learned I wasn't alone. A bipartisan bill aimed to address the rise of maternal mortality in our country was introduced by Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA), Congressman John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI), Congressman Ryan Costello (R-PA), and Congresswoman Diana DeGette (D-CO). The Preventing Maternal Deaths Act of 2017 (H.B. 1318) aims to help states establish or improve their maternal mortality review committees (MMRCs) – interdisciplinary groups of local experts in maternal, infant, and public health – to examine maternal death cases and identify locally-relevant ways to prevent future deaths.
Despite major advancements in technology and treatment, the maternal death rate has increased by 26% in our country in the past fifteen years with African-American women three to four times more likely to die from preventable and/or treatable causes related to pregnancy.
This legislation is so urgently needed as women in the United States are needlessly dying from pregnancy-related complications at a higher rate than women in 47 other countries. This is completely unacceptable, and you can do something about it today by signing this petition and contacting your representative to co-sponsor this bipartisan legislation.
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