Chervonne Magaoa leaves behind four boys.
The 34-year-old mother from Hawaii, recently passed away while giving birth to triplet boys last week, the New Zealand Herald reports.
Magaoa, who was at a routine check-up at the Kapi’olani Medical Center for Women and Children, was advised to have an emergency C-section. During the procedure, Magaoa suffered from an amniotic fluid embolism (AFE) — a rare birth complication that affects one in 40,000 deliveries in North America, the Amniotic Fluid Embolism Foundation notes.
Speaking with the New Zealand Herald, Magaoa’s father Bishop Hyran Smith said he took Magaoa to the hospital that day because her husband was at work.
“Usually, the appointment takes 30 minutes. But it ended up being longer,” he said. “By 5:30 p.m., the babies were born. Everything was fine and then she got a complication.”
That day Magaoa gave birth to Aayden, Blaise, and Carson.
The rare and fatal complication
AFE is unpreventable, unpredictable and often-fatal, the AFE Foundation notes. It’s an allergic-like reaction when amniotic fluid (the fluid that is around the baby when it is in the uterus) enters the mother’s bloodstream. The site notes this fluid and other fetal debris can enter into the circulatory system at any given time, but not all women have the same fatal reaction.
The reaction results in rapid respiratory failure and cardiac arrest, followed by bleeding at the placental attachment or Cesarean incision. Most fatalities occur with respiratory failure, the site adds.
Miranda Klassen, executive director of the AFE Foundation, says many families do not know about this pregnancy complication because of how rare it is.
“It is not found in any of the ‘what to expect when expecting’ when it comes to birth complications,” she tells Global News, adding stories like these also scare women. “When we have a situation like this, it is [better] for women to know about it. We want to provide awareness.”
She adds while there is no way to prepare for AFE or to avoid it, pregnant mothers who want to understand more about the complication should talk to their doctors about facilities, for example, that can cater to these needs.
Klassen adds research is also important, and highly needed in the field in general. While bringing attention to families’ stories is one way to spread awareness, North Americans still need to understand the statistics (which is often misinterpreted).
“What we want to do is to perpetuate a call to action, outside of just a sad story,” she says. “In the 21st century, women are still dying at childbirth, this is on the rise and there is very little research.”
The aftermath of AFE
Klassen says when a family does suffer through an experience like this one, things can get chaotic. Not only do they mourn the loss of a loved one, but there are also children to take care of.
“People want to rush the family and provide food and show support, but what the family needs is quiet time,” she says. “They need people to help take care of the baby [or babies] and put them on feeding, napping and bathing schedules.”
And often, there is a lot of confusion among family members as to why this happened in the first place.
“In these situations, they do have a lot of questions,” she continues. “We help build the gap between the medical community and the patient. Often when there’s a maternal death, the family wants to better understand what happened, part of the grief process is denial and anger.”
Supporting the family
Following her death, Jan Lesuma, on behalf of Magaoa’s husband Martin, created a GoFundMe page to raise money for the unexpected upcoming expenses, including funeral costs and ongoing costs for the triplets and six-year-old son Tanner.
“Everyone that knows Chervonne can attest to her witty humour, her true friendship and her fierce love and devotion to her family,” the GoFundMe page notes.
Jo-Photography, who recently took photos of the family before the birth, even created a tribute to honour Magaoa.