Meet Charles Johnson
I was lucky enough to meet a woman who absolutely changed my life. When we talk about my wife Kira, we're really talking about sunshine personified. We're talking about a woman who raced cars, who ran marathons, who spoke five languages fluently and who had her pilot's license as a hobby. She really just challenged me to be better in every single aspect of my life.
We were ecstatic when we found out we would be welcoming our second son, Langston, in April 2016. We made the decision to deliver him at Cedar Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles because it was our understanding that it was one of the best hospitals nationwide, particularly in the area of obstetrics. When we walked into Cedar Sinai on April 12th for a routine scheduled C-section, we thought it was going to be the happiest day of our lives—but instead we walked into a nightmare.
Langston was born perfectly healthy—10 fingers, 10 toes, super handsome looking, just like me. They took us back to recovery, and as I was sitting there watching Kira and Langston rest I began to see blood coming from the catheter by Kira’s bedside. This was around four o'clock in the afternoon.
I brought it to the attention of the doctors and nurses, and they assessed Kira and ordered tests including blood work and a CT scan that was supposed to be performed stat. But hours went by and still no CT scan. It wasn't until after midnight that they finally took her back for surgery, after allowing her condition to deteriorate while our families begged and pleaded for somebody to help her. When they opened her up, there were three and a half liters of blood in her abdomen from where she'd been allowed to hemorrhage for almost 10 hours. And her heart stopped immediately.
This “It’s Not Fine” campaign resonated with me so powerfully because that's what we were told—we were told that Kira was going to be fine. As they were wheeling her down the hall to take her back to surgery, Kira was holding my hand, saying, “Baby, I'm scared. I'm scared.” The doctor overheard the conversation and said, “It's going to be fine. It's not a big deal. Sometimes these things happen. I'm going to go back into the same incision I made when I did the Caesarian. I'm going to open her up. I'm going to find out what's going on. I'm going to fix it, and she'll be back in 15 minutes.” But when he took Kira back into that operating room that was the last time I saw her alive.
I’m so grateful for March of Dimes to make a commitment to this campaign and to allow families from all walks of life, from all different experiences to raise their voice and express that they too were told that these precious people to them were going to be just fine, when everything's not fine. The state of maternal health in this country is not fine. People walking into what should be routine procedures, people walking into what they expect to be the happiest day of their lives and not living to raise their children, or their babies not coming home—it’s not fine. And we've got to do so much better because women and babies deserve so much better.
That's why I continue to fight for maternal health. We’ve created a foundation in Kira’s honor, 4Kira4Moms, that fights for maternal justice and to improve maternal outcomes here in the country to make sure this never happens to another mom.