When pharmacist Ifeoma Onwuka, known to her friends as Laura, went into hospital to have her daughter, she and her husband hoped the delivery would go smoothly, and that they would soon be able to take their new arrival home to meet her siblings.
Onwuka’s labor was induced at James Paget University Hospital in Great Yarmouth in the UK, about 140 miles northeast of London, in late April 2018. Things progressed quickly and there were soon signs that her baby was in distress, causing staff to begin preparations for an emergency Caesarian section, but Onwuka’s daughter was born in the recovery room.
Shortly after the birth, Onwuka’s condition began to deteriorate, according to the family’s lawyer, Tim Deeming; she began to bleed heavily, and was taken into surgery where attempts were made to stem the loss of blood. Hours later, and only after a second consultant had been called in, she was given an emergency hysterectomy. The mother-of-three died three days later.
The coroner, Yvonne Blake, said an expert had told Onwuka’s inquest that the delay to surgery contributed to her death, since acting early could have controlled the bleeding.
Black mothers have worse outcomes during pregnancy or childbirth than any other ethnic group in England. According to the latest confidential inquiry into maternal deaths (MBRRACE-UK), released Thursday, Black people in England are four times more likely to die in pregnancy or within the first six weeks of childbirth than their White counterparts.