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  • >> Sreenivasan: IF YOU'RE AN

  • AMERICAN WOMAN, YOUR CHANCES OF

  • DYING FROM PREGNANCY-RELATED

  • CAUSES ARE HIGHER THAN SOMEONE

  • WHO LIVES IN SWEDEN, POLAND OR

  • LIBYA.

  • IN AN HISTORIC MOVE THIS PAST

  • DECEMBER, PRESIDENT TRUMP

  • ALLOCATED $50,000,000 IN FUNDING

  • TO DECREASE MATERNAL MORTALITY

  • OVER THE NEXT FIVE YEARS.

  • TEXAS INADVERTENTLY BECAME AN

  • EMBLEM ON THE HEALTH CRISIS WHEN

  • IT MISTAKENLY OVERSTATED THE

  • NUMBER OF MATERNAL DEATHS IN

  • THEIR STATE, BUT THE ERROR DREW

  • ATTENTION TO THE NUMBER OF

  • AFRICAN AMERICAN WOMEN WHO STILL

  • HAD HIGHER MATERNAL DEATH RATES

  • THAN OTHER POPULATIONS.

  • NEWSHOUR WEEKEND SPECIAL

  • CORRESPONDENT KIRSTY JOHANSEN

  • TRAVELED TO TEXAS TO MEET THE

  • WOMAN WHO HELPED PUT THIS ISSUE

  • IN THE SPOTLIGHT AND IS FIGHTING

  • FOR CHANGE ACROSS THE COUNTRY.

  • >> Reporter: MORNINGS IN THE

  • THIERRY HOUSEHOLD ARE LIKE THOSE

  • IN MANY OTHER AMERICAN HOMES.

  • SHAWN THIERRY, A SINGLE MOTHER,

  • IS GETTING HER DAUGHTER, KLAIRE,

  • READY FOR SCHOOL AND HAS A JAM-

  • PACKED DAY HERSELF.

  • THIERRY TRIES NOT TO TAKE ANY OF

  • THEIR TIME TOGETHER FOR GRANTED,

  • REMEMBERING SAGE WORDS FROM HER

  • GRANDMOTHER.

  • >> SHE WOULD ALWAYS SAY, I

  • REMEMBER WHEN I WAS A LITTLE

  • GIRL, "WELL, WHEN A WOMAN HAS A

  • BABY, THAT'S THE CLOSEST SHE'S

  • EVER GOING TO GET TO DEATH."

  • BUT THAT WAS TRUE BACK IN THE...

  • AS THEY SAY, THE OLD DAYS.

  • WOMEN DIED IN CHILDBIRTH.

  • AND SO, I FIND IT JUST BOGGLING

  • THAT IN 2019 WE'RE STILL HAVING

  • THIS CONVERSATION.

  • I'M GOING TO GO GET YOUR

  • CLOTHES.

  • >> Reporter: TEXAS HAS ONE OF

  • THE MOST CONCERNING MATERNAL

  • MORTALITY RATES IN THE COUNTRY,

  • ESTIMATED AT 14.6 PER 100,000

  • LIVE BIRTHS.

  • FOR BLACK WOMEN, IT'S EVEN

  • WORSE: 27.8 PER 100,000.

  • SHAWN THIERRY ALMOST BECAME ONE

  • OF THE STATE'S STATISTICS

  • HERSELF WHILE GIVING BIRTH IN

  • 2012 TO KLAIRE.

  • >> I STARTED TO TELL THE DOCTORS

  • IN THE ROOM, "SOMETHING'S NOT

  • RIGHT."

  • I ASKED THEM TO PUT ME UNDER, TO

  • GIVE ME FULL ANESTHESIA,

  • THINKING THAT IF SOMEHOW I

  • WASN'T CONSCIOUS AND AWAKE OF

  • THE LEVEL OF PAIN THAT I WAS IN,

  • THAT MAYBE I COULD SURVIVE.

  • AND THEY SAID, "WELL, THE

  • DOCTOR'S NOT EVEN IN THE ROOM.

  • HE... HE HAS TO MAKE THAT

  • ORDER."

  • AND I JUST SCREAMED, "GO GET

  • HIM."

  • >> Reporter: THIERRY DOESN'T

  • REMEMBER MUCH ELSE OTHER THAN

  • WAKING UP AND FINDING OUT SHE

  • HAD GIVEN BIRTH.

  • SHE SAYS HER DOCTOR NEVER

  • EXPLAINED WHAT HAD HAPPENED.

  • >> LATER, I FOUND OUT.

  • A COUPLE OF NURSES CAME IN, AND

  • THEY SAID THAT I HAD WHAT'S

  • CALLED A HIGH-BLOCK EPIDURAL.

  • AND THAT CAN BE AN ADVERSE

  • REACTION WHEN I BELIEVE IT'S PUT

  • TOO HIGH IN YOUR SPINE AND THE

  • MEDICINE GOES TO YOUR HEART

  • INSTEAD OF DOWN TO YOUR LEGS.

  • SO, IT WAS PARALYZING MY HEART.

  • >> Reporter: THIERRY BELIEVES

  • HER NURSES AND DOCTORS DIDN'T

  • TAKE HER PAIN LEVEL SERIOUSLY.

  • SHE SAYS A UNIVERSITY OF

  • VIRGINIA REPORT MAY HOLD THE KEY

  • AS TO WHY.

  • >> THEY SURVEYED MEDICAL

  • STUDENTS WHO ACTUALLY BELIEVED

  • THAT AFRICAN AMERICANS HAVE

  • THICKER SKIN.

  • THEY REVEAL THAT THEY THOUGHT

  • THAT AFRICAN AMERICANS HAD A

  • HIGHER PAIN THRESHOLD.

  • AND SO, FINDINGS ARE COMING OUT

  • THAT BLACKS ARE LESS LIKELY TO

  • RECEIVE PAIN MEDICATION IN THE

  • E.R.

  • >> Reporter: AS A BLACK WOMAN IN

  • TEXAS, THIERRY KNOWS ALL TOO

  • WELL HOW BIG THE PROBLEM IS.

  • SHE'S A TEXAS HOUSE

  • REPRESENTATIVE.

  • HER DISTRICT INCLUDES THREE OF

  • THE ZIP CODES WITH THE HIGHEST

  • MATERNAL MORTALITY RATES.

  • DRIVEN BY HER PERSONAL ORDEAL,

  • SHE'S PUSHING THE STATE TO STUDY

  • MATERNAL MORTALITY, AN ISSUE

  • THAT DR. CARLA ORTIQUE SAYS HAS

  • BECOME A CRISIS.

  • >> AT LEAST 50% TO 80% OF

  • DELIV... OF THESE DEATHS ARE

  • PREVENTABLE.

  • >> Reporter: ORTIQUE IS VICE

  • CHAIR OF THE TEXAS MATERNAL

  • MORTALITY AND MORBIDITY TASK

  • FORCE, WHICH WAS ESTABLISHED IN

  • 2013 TO STUDY THE STATE'S

  • MATERNAL MORTALITY RATE.

  • >> WE KNOW THAT FOR EVERY

  • MATERNAL DEATH, THERE ARE

  • APPROXIMATELY 100 SEVERE

  • MATERNAL MORBIDITIES.

  • IN OTHER WORDS, BAD THINGS THAT

  • HAPPEN-- NEAR MISSES, NEAR DEATH

  • INSTANCES.

  • AND SO, IT'S REALLY IMPORTANT

  • THAT WE RECOGNIZE THAT THE

  • MORTALITY IS JUST THAT.

  • IT'S THE TIP OF THE ICEBERG.

  • >> Reporter: ORTIQUE SAYS 55% OF

  • WOMEN WHO GIVE BIRTH IN TEXAS

  • ARE COVERED BY MEDICAID.

  • MOST LOSE THAT COVERAGE 42 DAYS

  • AFTER DELIVERY.

  • >> AND SO, IT'S LIKELY NOT A

  • COINCIDENCE THAT YOU SEE A

  • HIGHER INCIDENCE OF DEATH AFTER

  • THAT 42-DAY MARK.

  • >> Reporter: TEXAS HAS THE

  • LARGEST UNINSURED RATE IN THE

  • COUNTRY IN PART BECAUSE IN 2012

  • THE STATE LEGISLATURE REJECTED

  • BILLIONS OF DOLLARS IN FEDERAL

  • AID TO EXPAND MEDICAID UNDER THE

  • AFFORDABLE CARE ACT.

  • DR. ORTIQUE SAYS THAT DECISION

  • COUPLED WITH POVERTY, OBESITY

  • AND INCREASES IN OPIATE ABUSE

  • HAS SERVED ONLY TO FURTHER

  • MARGINALIZE THOSE IN NEED.

  • >> SHE WAS ALWAYS EXPERIMENTING

  • WITH HAIR.

  • >> Reporter: CHERYL PERKINS'

  • DAUGHTER, CASSAUNDRA, HAD

  • INSURANCE WHEN SHE GAVE BIRTH TO

  • TWINS CAMILLE AND CATREYAL, NOW

  • FOUR YEARS OLD.

  • SHE ALREADY HAD AN OLDER

  • DAUGHTER, JOURNII, WHO IS NOW

  • SIX.

  • BUT EVEN WITH INSURANCE, DOCTORS

  • MISSED EARLY SIGNS OF TROUBLE.

  • >> SHE HAD WENT TO THE E.R. 22

  • TIMES WITH... WITH NO

  • RESOLUTION, WHICH... THAT NEVER

  • SHOULD HAVE HAPPENED BECAUSE,

  • YOU KNOW, IT WOULD SEEM LIKE THE

  • DOCTORS WOULD SAY, "WHY IS THIS

  • PERSON COMING BACK HERE?

  • WE'RE DOING... WE'RE NOT DOING