3rd maternal death in Hawaii hits close to home for physicians who are also moms
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hawaii has suffered its third maternal death from COVID-19.
Dr. Stacy Tsai, chair of the Hawaii State Maternal Mortality Review Committee, says the third woman had given birth and the baby is OK.
The three maternal deaths all happened during the Delta surge. All the women were unvaccinated.
For doctors who care for pregnant women and are mothers themselves, the tragedies hit close to home.
“It’s devastating because these babies will never meet their mom,” said Dr. Ronnie Texeira, an OB-GYN at Hawaii Pacific Health.
She gave birth in July to a healthy baby girl named Ember Meleana Pihalaiikeanuenue.
“She’s doing great. Very uncomplicated pregnancy. Uncomplicated delivery,” said Texeira.
Texeira got the COVID vaccine as soon as she could when she was 16 weeks pregnant.
“I couldn’t think of anything really, anything harmful that the vaccination could do to me or my child,” she said.
For her, urging pregnant women to get vaccinated to prevent severe illness and death is her profession. But it’s also deeply personal.
“I can’t imagine not holding her and she never meeting me. And not only that but your whole life to look forward to,” she said, with a tear in her eye.
The CDC says pregnant women have a 70% higher chance of death from COVID than non-pregnant women.
But only 31% of pregnant women are vaccinated.
“If the woman has not gotten vaccinated, I think the important message is to seek medical attention right away if you have any COVID symptoms,” Tsai said.
Tsai added that pre-pandemic there were roughly eight to 10 maternal deaths each year in Hawaii with issues ranging from high blood pressure to hemorrhage to infection.
She says the three maternal deaths from COVID during the Delta surge were all preventable. Now the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists is recommending booster shots for pregnant women.
“So if it has been six months since your last dose, we are recommending the additional dose,” said Tsai.
exeira says the booster shot will be good for her health, her baby and gives her peace of mind.
“We are going to get our booster pretty soon so she’ll get even more antibodies,” said Texeira. “It’s a huge relief for me,” she added.
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