BED-STUY, Brooklyn (WABC) -- She appeared to be the picture of health in the final stages of her pregnancy, but the reality for Sha-Asia Washington, 26, turned tragically grim after she entered Woodhull Hospital in Brooklyn last week.
Washington received an epidural, then died during an emergency C-section.
"She's 26 years old. How does your heart stop at 26? How? She was healthy - there was nothing wrong with her, her whole pregnancy," said Washington's best friend Jazmin Lopez.
What's wrong, they say, is a system that is statistically bleak for mothers of color. According to the CDC, black women are 2 to 3 times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than white women. One study, suggesting that in New York City, the situation is 12 times as bad.
"We need anti-racist medical models of care - that's it, we need a systemic overhaul," said Chanel Porchia-Albert.
Washington gave birth to a healthy baby girl, Khloe, but her father, Juwan Lopez and his family are grieving now.
"And we just want justice, justice for Khloe, and justice for Sha-Asia, so she can leave a legacy for her baby," said the baby's grandfather, Jose Lopez.
A spokesperson for the hospital released a statement Thursday saying,
"NYC Health + Hospitals/Woodhull is committed to the maternal health and welfare of our patients. We are saddened by this death and our condolences go out to the family of the deceased. The City's public health system recognizes the disproportionate increased burden that black and brown patients face during childbirth. We are devoted to understanding the causes, and are committed to addressing this unacceptable disparity."
Celebrities like Amy Schumer are posting on social media about the case, and there are also demonstrators outside the hospital with signs that say 'Black Births Matter.'
The family remains broken, and demanding answers.
Family demands justice after healthy mother dies during emergency C-section