The death of a Black Indianapolis medical resident who died of pregnancy complications two days after welcoming her daughter has spotlighted concerning racial disparities in maternal mortality rates.
Dr. Chaniece Wallace, a 30-year-old fourth-year chief pediatrics resident at Indiana University Health Riley Hospital for Children, died on Oct. 22, two days after giving birth to her daughter, Charlotte.
The baby, whom Wallace welcomed with her husband Anthony Wallace Jr., was born four weeks early via C-section and weighed four pounds and five ounces. Doctors took action after Wallace showed symptoms of preeclampsia.
Preeclampsia is a condition that comes only with pregnancy and is characterized by high blood pressure and damage to other organs, including the liver and kidneys. Doctors are not sure what causes the condition, which typically appears after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Black women are 60 percent more likely to develop the condition than white women.
After the birth, Wallace underwent surgery for complications, according to the GoFundMe page created by her husband.
“From this day to Oct 22, 2020 my wife Chaniece had to endure surgery due to complications developing in her body. Three of the main challenges we encountered were a ruptured liver, high blood pressure, and kidneys were not fully functioning,” Anthony Wallace wrote on the page.
Black women are three times more likely than white woman to die of preeclampsia, and are nearly four times more likely to die of pregnancy-related complications in general.
Dr. Omolara Uwemedimo, a New York pediatrician and founder of Melanin, Medicine & Motherhood, spoke out about Wallace’s death on Twitter.
“Dr. Chaniece Wallace. Say her name. We say protect Black women because you don’t. All Black women, including health providers, who have dedicated their lives to keeping us alive,” she wrote. “My head says don’t stop until Black women in medicine & academia are safe, protected & supported. But my heart hurts.”
The mission of Melanin, Medicine & Motherhood is to empower Black women in medicine and academia to live an integrated life without sacrificing personal or professional goals.
Anthony Wallace said his wife was interviewing for positions across the country prior to her death, and that she had already passed the board exams.
“I am forever grateful for the five years God gave me with you,” he wrote
Charlotte has been in the NICU since her birth, where she is doing “exceptonally well.”
The GoFundMe page has raised more than $160,000.