Olympic track and field star Allyson Felix called attention to the Black maternal mortality rate following the death of teammate Tori Bowie due to complications related to childbirth. 

“The medical community must do its part,” Felix wrote in an essay published by Time on Thursday. “There are so many stories of women dying who haven’t been heard. Doctors really need to hear the pain of Black women.” 

Bowie was found dead inside a Florida home on May 2. 

According to an autopsy report from Florida’s Orange County Medical Examiner’s Office, Bowie died while about 8 months pregnant with a “well-developed fetus.” The report said there was evidence she was “undergoing labor (crowning)” when she died. 

The autopsy report noted respiratory distress and eclampsia as possible complications. According to Cleveland Clinic, eclampsia is when a pregnant person with preeclampsia — a blood pressure condition — develops seizures. 

In her Time essay, Felix shared the preeclampsia diagnosis she got during her pregnancy with her daughter Camryn in 2018. Felix had an emergency C-section at 32 weeks pregnant and Camryn was born premature. 

“I was unsure if I was going to make it,” Felix said in the essay. “If I was ever going to hold my precious daughter.” 

She said she was unaware of the risks she faced. 

“About five days before I gave birth to Camryn, I was having Thanksgiving dinner with my family. I mentioned that my feet were swollen. As we went around the table, the women shared their experiences during pregnancy. My cousin said she also had swollen feet. My mom didn’t,” Felix said. “Not once did someone say, ‘Oh, well, that’s one of the indicators of preeclampsia.’ None of us knew. When I became pregnant, my doctor didn’t sit me down and tell me, ‘These are things that you should look for in your pregnancy, because you are at a greater risk to experience these complications.’” 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the maternal mortality rate for Black women in 2021 — which Felix noted in her essay — was 2.6 times the rate for white women or 69.9 deaths per 100,000 live births. 

In her essay, Felix mentioned tennis star Serena Williams who, after delivering her daughter Olympia via emergency C-section in 2017, had a pulmonary embolism. 

Felix also referred to Beyonce, who experienced preeclampsia while pregnant with twins Rumi and Sir. 

“I hate that it takes Tori’s situation to put this back on the map and to get people to pay attention to it,” Felix said. “But oftentimes, we need that wake-up call.” 

Felix said she would love to have another child. 

“That’s something that I know for sure,” she said. “But will I be here to raise that child? That’s a very real concern. And that’s a terrifying thing. This is America, in 2023, Black women are dying while giving birth. It’s absurd.” 

Source: aol.com 

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