When Serena Williams gave birth to her daughter, her emergency C-section turned even more frightening when she developed a pulmonary embolism 24 hours after she welcomed Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr. The tennis superstar, who is prone to the condition, spent the next six days in the hospital fighting for her life after a slew of complications arose.
In a new Op-Ed for CNN, Williams details her scary fight. "First my C-section wound popped open due to the intense coughing I endured as a result of the embolism," she writes. "I returned to surgery, where the doctors found a large hematoma, a swelling of clotted blood, in my abdomen."
"And then I returned to the operating room for a procedure that prevents clots from traveling to my lungs," she continues. "When I finally made it home to my family, I had to spend the first six weeks of motherhood in bed."
Thankfully, she's alive today, but she's aware that her access to great medical care made the difference. "I am so grateful I had access to such an incredible medical team of doctors and nurses at a hospital with state-of-the-art equipment," she writes. "They knew exactly how to handle this complicated turn of events. If it weren't for their professional care, I wouldn't be here today."
Now, she's making it her mission to tell her story and bring awareness to the plight that faces many black women in this country. In her article she references stats from the Center for Disease Control that finds "black women in the United States. are over three times more likely to die from pregnancy or childbirth-related causes."
However, around the world those statistics only get worse. "According to UNICEF, each year, 2.6 million newborns die, tragically before their lives even really get started. Over 80% die from preventable causes," she writes.
Williams argues that this doesn't need to be the case if we just did our part. "Every mother, everywhere, regardless of race or background deserves to have a healthy pregnancy and birth. And you can help make this a reality," she says. "Together, we can make this change. Together, we can be the change."