By: Emilie St. John
Nearly 200 friends and family of April Valentine gathered in front of Centinela Hospital on Jan. 17 to demand justice for April who died on Jan. 10 while giving birth in its maternity ward.
“Aniya is going to have to grow up without her mother,” said Mykesha Mack, her cousin. “She was suppose to come out that hospital with her baby and DIDNT. I had just spoken to and prayed for her to have a safe and healthy baby, I didn’t think I would lose her. She always wanted to be a mom and was so excited to raise her baby. My heart is so broken man.”
Mack stood on the steps of the hospital’s emergency room under a banner that named Centinela Hospital one of the “Top 100 Hospital’s in the nation”.
The family wasn’t at liberty to discuss the details surrounding her death but her best friend Cheyenne Ne’Shay, posted on social media that April complained for hours about experiencing numbness in her legs.
“We are hoping to publicize this to cause a systemic change in all hospitals,” said Michael Mack, who is also April’s cousin. “Her death is still under investigation so we can’t talk about that.”
The Los Angeles County Medical Examiner’s office does not show Valentine being listed on their website for an exam.
April’s friends took to social media the day after her death in shock about what happened to her.
“She and her boyfriend complained for hours to the nurses that she could not feel her legs and they told her they would not call the doctors because they would get upset. Now my best friend is dead,” wrote Ne’Shay, the day after April’s death.
It wasn’t clear if the numbness was before or after her giving birth to her daughter who survived.
The issues April is said to have experienced appears to resemble complications of a Cesarean procedure commonly known as a C-section.
The same tragedy befell another Black woman who died after having the same procedure.
Kira Johnson was admitted to Cedars-Sinai for a planned C-section on April 12, 2016. Her husband, Charles Johnson, described a similar seen where they pleaded with the medical staff for assistance after he noticed blood in her catheter.
He recalled being told his wife wasn’t a “priority” at the time and by the time she was taken back to the operating room it was too late. Doctors found three liters of blood in her abdomen after the C-section.
A nurse who was deposed in Kira’s case said “when things go bad, we just ship them to ICU and if they die there, it doesn’t count against us”.
Statistics show that Black women are four to six times more likely to die from childbirth in California than white women and members of the community showed up to support bringing more awareness to the fact this continues to happen.
“I’m hearing about this injustice to Black women and its despicable it’s continuing to happen in 2023,” said Gloria J. Davis, with the Girls Club of Los Angeles. “It just goes to show doctors are not listening to Black women when they say they are in pain.”
Activist Najee Ali was also on hand to support the family and bring attention to April’s death.
“Ms. Davis invited me to come to support the family and it’s no secret that Black women are disproportionately negatively affected by poor healthcare and don’t get the same equity that White women get,” said Ali. “The fact that this young mother died here at this hospital is the result of poor medical care and thank God the baby did survive.”
The hospital has made no official statements on April’s death.
A GoFundMe has been set up to support April’s daughter Aniya. You can contribute here.