Indiana doctor dies during childbirth, highlighting Black maternal health disparities

Statistics show a Black woman is at least twice as likely to die in childbirth than a White woman in America.

Dr. Chaniece Wallace, a pediatric chief resident in Indiana, died on October 20 after giving birth to her first child, a daughter named Charlotte Azaela

Her husband, Anthony, wrote on a GoFundMe post that the couple were very excited about welcoming Charlotte into the world and had discussed “all of the many possibilities of her bright future and the limitless paths she could follow.” 

According to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a Black woman is at least twice as likely to die in childbirth than a White woman in America. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

However, Dr. Wallace developed symptoms of preeclampsia and underwent surgery to address the complications, which included a ruptured liver, high blood pressure and failing kidneys. 

She ultimately passed away. 

“Chaniece fought with every piece of strength, courage and faith she had available,” Anthony Wallace wrote.

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Dr. Wallace’s death highlights Black maternal health disparities. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that, when it comes to maternal mortality, “wide racial/ethnic gaps exist between non-Hispanic black (37.1 per 100,000 live births), non-Hispanic white (14.7), and Hispanic (11.8) women, which is consistent with earlier data.” 

That means a Black woman is at least twice as likely to die in childbirth than a White woman.

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One of Dr. Wallace’s colleagues, Dr. Adam B. Hill, shared on Twitter that it was an “utter shock & sadness to lose one of our chief residents during childbirth this past weekend.”

Dr. Rachel Vreeman wrote: “This news has gutted me all day. As a former pediatric chief resident at Indiana University myself who also experienced HELLP at the end of my pregnancy, this brought home all the data about how our systems & society fail Black women. I lived. She didn’t.”

Monifa Bandele, the senior vice president of MomsRising, said in a quote exclusive to TheGrio that her agency supports the enactment of the Black Maternal Health Momnibus Bill introduced in the House in March, as well as the expansion of Medicaid, increased access to doula services, diversification of the perinatal workforce and greater efforts to combat racial bias throughout our healthcare system.

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“Lives depend on it,” Bandele said. 

Anthony Wallace wrote on his GoFundMe post that “although we have encountered the loss of a wife and a mother, Charlotte and I rejoice in having one another and knowing that Chaniece is watching down on us from heaven.” 

The fund, which had a goal of $5,000, has exceeded over $115,000 in donations. 

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