NEW YORK (WABC/CNN) - The family of a 26-year-old Black woman who died during an emergency C-section at a New York City hospital is demanding answers, as they raise her daughter without a mother.
Sha-Asia Washington, 26, appeared to be the picture of health in the final stages of her pregnancy, but after she entered Woodhull Hospital in Brooklyn last week, she received an epidural then died during an emergency C-section.
"She's 26 years old. How does your heart stop at 26? She was healthy. There was nothing wrong with her her whole pregnancy," said Washington's best friend, Jazmin Lopez.
Washington gave birth to a healthy baby girl named Khloe, but her father, Juwan Lopez, and his family are grieving the loss of her mother.
"We just want justice – justice for Khloe and justice for Sha-Asia – so she can leave a legacy for her baby," said the baby's grandfather, Jose Lopez.
Demonstrators gathered alongside Washington’s family outside the hospital with signs that read “Black Birth Matters,” and celebrities like Amy Schumer have posted on social media about the case.
What’s wrong, the protesters say, is a system that is statistically bleak for mothers of color.
Black women are two to three times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than white women, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. One study suggests that in New York City, the situation is 12 times as bad.
"We need anti-racist medical models of care. That's it. We need a systemic overhaul," Chanel Porchia-Albert said.
A spokesperson for Woodhull released a statement Thursday, saying the hospital is “committed to the maternal health and welfare of our patients.”
“We are saddened by this death, and our condolences go out to the family of the deceased. The City’s public health system recognizes the disproportionate increased burden that black and brown patients face during childbirth. We are devoted to understanding the causes and are committed to addressing this unacceptable disparity,” the statement read.