A man who lost his wife shortly after birth is pushing to change federal and state law to protect more women from pregnancy-related deaths.
Kira Johnson, 39, died in April 2016 after a caesarean section at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. Dr. Arjang Naim – described by the California Medical Board as grossly negligent in Kira's death and the near-death of several other women – still gives birth to babies even though he is no longer with Cedars.
Hours after the birth of her second son Langston, Kira took her last breath.
"When you looked at the medical records, it was classified as a surgical emergency around 6:30 a.m.," recalled Charles Johnson.
She was bleeding internally, but despite her deteriorating condition, Kira begged her husband to stay calm.
"When I look back and play it over and over in my head like I do every day, she understood only to be honest when I lost my temper, when I screamed, when I hit my fist on the nurse, or At the nursing station, which is an African American man, I would be seen as a threat, "he said.
It was after midnight before she was operated on again.
"They opened it, there was 3 liters of blood in her stomach, where she was allowed to suffer and bleed for almost 10 hours. Her heart stopped immediately and they could not save her," said Charles.
Charles testified before the medical board after learning that Naim had only been on probation for 4 years. During this time, he may not teach or supervise other doctors or nurses.
Read the full decision of the Medical Board here
"They are all sending a loud final message to the state and country that women can be killed without consequence," said Charles at the meeting.
"So he [Naim] is a repeat offender, but he can still practice medicine," he said. "… I'm afraid this man will do this to another family."
Naim paid Johnson a $ 1 million severance payment. The case against Cedars-Sinai is scheduled to go to trial in the fall. The hospital quotes data protection laws that prevent them from discussing the case, but made this statement to the I team:
"Charles S. Johnson IV has an important leadership role in raising awareness of preventable maternal deaths. Members of the Cedars Sinai Faculty support efforts to improve care and prevent maternal death and are actively involved in community, State and federal levels to protect the lives of mothers and their babies.While federal data protection laws prevent us from responding directly to patient care, we can report that Cedars-Sinai is thoroughly researching every situation, with concerns with regard to medical care for a patient. "
Naim did not respond to our request for comment after we reached him on the phone.
Charles is now pushing for change with the Medical Board and beyond. He founded the non-profit organization 4kira4moms and is committed to national laws to better protect pregnant women. A legislative package co-sponsored by Senator Kamala Harris is currently available before Congress. The United States has the highest maternal mortality rate in the developed world.
"African American women actually die four times as often as Caucasians, right, so these statistics are shameful," said Charles.
Charles will never get over the loss of his beloved Kira; he was, he says, embodied sunshine, a brilliant woman who spoke five languages fluently, who loved and cherished her children deeply.
"She was in exceptional health and did everything right, and she is still not here to raise our sons," he said.
Charles is now supporting efforts to legislate in California that would significantly raise the $ 250,000 limit for malpractice cases 50 years ago.
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The Nonprofit Patient Safety League maintains an extensive database of doctors disciplined by the State Medical Board: