In 2016, Kira Johnson bled to death in the Cedars-Sinai operating room after giving birth to her son Langston. Now, a civil rights lawsuit against the hospital claims doctors knew about excessive bleeding in Kira's abdomen post-delivery, but waited too late to operate because of racial bias.
On Wednesday (May 4), widower Charles Johnson, alongside his attorneys and community advocates, said Kira would still be alive if she were white.
Charles said in a statement, "Because of the things we have learned through this incredibly painful process, 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."
The widower said he begged nurses for hours to get his wife a CT scan after seeing blood in her catheter.
One nurse allegedly told Charles, "Sir, your wife just isn't a priority right now."
To support their lawsuit, Charles' attorneys released "damning" employee testimonies on the Cedars-Sinai's hospital practices.
Cedars nurse Kimberly Gregory said in her deposition. "When things go bad, we just ship them to ICU and if they die there, it doesn't count against us."
Angelique Washington, a surgical technologist at the hospital, admitted to saying an extra prayer for Black patients at Cedars.
Washington said in her deposition, "That has been my creed of my career, that all goes well because you do have racism."
Nick Rowley of Trial Lawyers for Justice said the evidence "has given us what we need to prove, based on their testimony, their literature, their evidence, that Kira died because she's Black."
Charles noted that Kira is now a victim of the statistic that Black women in California are four to six times more likely to die from childbirth than their white counterparts.
Charles said in a statement, "I will not be satisfied until every single mother in the United States receives the dignified, safe birthing experience that she deserves."
Cedars-Sinai hospital said in a statement, "Cedars-Sinai was founded on the principles of diversity, inclusion, and quality healthcare for all. We reject any mischaracterization of our culture and values."
The hospital continued, "While disparities exist throughout our society, we are actively working to eradicate unconscious bias in healthcare and advance equity in healthcare more broadly. "
"While federal privacy laws prevent us from responding directly about any patient's care, we have a longstanding commitment to making any changes to ensure we provide patients with the highest level of care," Cedars-Sinai's statement reads.
Reading about Black trauma can have an impact on your mental health. If you or someone you know need immediate mental health help, text "STRENGTH" to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 to be connected to a certified crisis counselor.