You have probably heard the story of Tashonna Ward, the 25-year-old Milwaukee woman who recently spent hours in the emergency room due to shortness of breath and died after waiting too long. Ward was told that she would spend between two to six hours in wait time at the ER according to distressing posts on her Facebook page. Preliminary tests were performed on Ward and showed she had cardiomegaly, an enlarged heart, but she was never admitted despite having chest pains and tightness of breath.
After waiting 2 hours and 29 minutes in the ER, Tashonna Ward and her sister decided to go to urgent care. She never made it. She passed out en route and collapsed and died in the urgent care parking lot. The cause of death: hypertensive cardiovascular disease.
While many reports mentioned the emergency room wait times that led to Ward’s death, a few have reported that she developed cardiomegaly due to pregnancy complications from a miscarriage in March of 2019. In fact, the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner’s Report states that the “decedent did develop cardiomegaly during pregnancy.”
As I have written about before, black women are four times more likely to die from pregnancy-related complications than their white counterparts. She developed cardiomegaly during pregnancy and developed heart failure as a result. While I am no doctor or medical examiner, it bears repeating that oftentimes black women aren’t believed when they mention they are having health complications or made to wait as was Ward’s case. And, research shows that postpartum care is abysmal for black women. We don’t know if she had postpartum check-ups after her miscarriage or expressed to her doctor that she was feeling chest pains long before she died on January 2, 2020.
As so many people say, you must be your own best advocate. If you are feeling pain or discomfort immediately after or even a month or more after having a baby, a miscarriage, still birth or neonatal death your doctor needs to know right away. It is literally a matter of life or death.
Tashonna Ward’s family has set up a GoFundMe for funeral expenses and to “help change laws, protocols and legislation tied to long wait times in the ER for patients with shortness of breath and chest pain.”
Photo: Tashonna Ward Facebook page