Local committee researching maternal mortality rates

There's a major racial disparity when it comes to maternal mortality rates.

One family's true story inspired a recent episode of the Fox show "The Resident."

There are 700 to 900 maternal deaths nationwide each year, and among those victims, women of color are three to four times more likely to die.

The characters in the episode of the "The Resident" are inspired by the true story of Kira Johnson - who died in 2016 after delivering her second child.

Charles Johnson says his wife, Kira, was so full of life, even in the moments leading up to her C-Section.

She was smiling and laughing after their son, Langston, was born but later that day, she began to feel pain and quickly deteriorated.

Johnson says that he complained, but still had to wait hours before Kira could receive treatment. And, that night, she died from internal bleeding.

"Kira just deserved so much better and the sad truth is women all over this country are experiencing similar situations," he said.

Dr. Connie Bohon says the death rates are particularly high in the District.

Bohon just received approval from the D.C. Council to form a Maternal Mortality Review Committee.

The first meeting is set for next week, and they plan to hit the ground running.

"We're going to look at everything: the hospitals, the community, is there a lack of care in certain parts of the city, the answer is probably going to be yes for that," Bohon said.

Bohon will soon host a panel featuring Charles Johnson. The single father has been active on Capitol Hill, and formed the non-profit 4Kira4Moms.com dedicated to preventing maternal mortality.

"The highest honor and tribute I can pay to my wife is to fight as hard as I can to make sure we send mothers home with their babies," Johnson said.

Johnson and his mother, former television judge Glenda Hatchett, have filed a lawsuit against the hospital where Kira died - Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles.

The hospital offered the following statement:

Charles S. Johnson IV is demonstrating important leadership in raising awareness of preventable maternal deaths. Cedars-Sinai faculty members support efforts to improve care and prevent maternal deaths, and are actively involved in community, state and federal initiatives to safeguard the lives of mothers and their babies. While federal privacy laws prevent us from responding directly about any patient's care without written authorization, we can share that Cedars-Sinai thoroughly investigates any situation where there are concerns about a patient's medical care. We are always committed to making any changes needed so we can provide our patients with the highest level of care.