PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. — It’s Black Maternal Health Week, a time to talk about the disparities Black women face while pregnant.
Three years ago, Selina Ealey experienced one of the happiest days of her life.
“It was definitely something I would never forget,” she said.
Baby Ke’Niya was born in October of 2017— 15 weeks early.
“I had to have an emergency C-section to save our lives,” Ealey recalled.
She says late into her pregnancy she was diagnosed with a severe form of Preeclampsia called HELLP.
“Which means my liver enzymes were elevated,” she explained.
Ealey says doctors initially missed it.
“It was just real bad cramps, and I was very sensitive on the right side,” Ealey said. “I went to the ER they basically just disregarded it, I went to the first primary care OBGYN they disregarded it, ‘oh you know just symptoms of being pregnant.’ “But I knew this was not symptoms of just being pregnant, I knew this was serious.”
Ealey says that’s started to research her condition.
“Google was my best friend,” she said.
After changing doctors her suspicions were confirmed. But Ealey believes it was too late.
“We were in the NICU for four months and one day up until her death,” she said. “In my situation I never knew that was going to be the last question I got to ask. Never knew that was going to be the last time I got to hold my daughter.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Black women over 30 are 5 times more likely to die from a pregnancy-related issue compared to White women.
“Our number compares to Uzbekistan and many of the third world countries,” Dr. Collette Brown said.
Dr. Brown, an OBGYN in Wellington, believes lack of insurance, preexisting conditions like hypertension and obesity contributes to this data.
“Do you think that systemic racism has a role in this data,” WPTV Reporter Sabirah Rayford asked.
“That’s a huge question and I think the truth of that is absolutely,” Dr. Brown said. “But I don’t want to just blame racism. I really want us to try to come to a decision about putting all women first and try to take care of everyone.”
She recommends, being your own advocate, doing your research and choosing a doctor who treats you as a person first.
in 2019 Ealey started a non-profit organization in Ke’niya’s name, working to help other mothers.
“I realized if I would have done certain research, I would have been able to bring certain things to their attention to save her life,” she said. “So, I learned don’t just take their word for it, question it.”