A 30-year-old mother who gave birth by cesarean section has died after a surgical team in Brooklyn made an error, according to the New York State Department of Health’s investigators. Christine Fields died last November at Woodhull Medical Center, shortly after going into labor.

According to The New York Times, doctors decided to conduct an emergency C-section on Fields after noticing a change in the fetus’ heart rate. The baby was then born hours later. Fields, however, bled to death, the medical examiner’s office revealed.

Jose Perez, Fields’ fiancé, told The New York Times that the hospital still hasn’t offered any explanation about why they took so long to notice the complications that occurred after she underwent surgery. However, a document from the health department, obtained by The Times, states the surgical team had a miscommunication. The surgeons who performed the C-section failed to document complications that occurred during surgery properly, the report states. The complications included a “uterine arterial injury” which “resulted in maternal death,” the report concluded.


Perez said he noticed his Fields’ health deteriorating quickly after doctors completed the procedure and put her in a recovery room. According to Perez, doctors performed CPR after he alerted them about Fields’ condition. Perez added that it was too late to save her at that point because doctors took too long to notice her complications.

Fields’ case adds to the growing concern of maternal care for Black women. Per The New York Times, Black women in New York City are nine times more likely to die during childbirth compared to white women. Another Black mother, Sha-Asia Semple, also died at Woodhull in 2020 after an anesthesiologist misplaced the epidural, and then put a breathing tube down her esophagus instead of her windpipe.

According to ABC 7 New York, Fields’ family is taking legal action against Woodhull Hospital and the New York City Health and Hospital system. The family, who is seeking $41 million in damages, said in their complaint that Woodhull and the health department were “careless and negligent in the medical care and treatment rendered” to Fields and her baby.

“I’m angry, I’m hurt, I’m upset,” Fields’ mother Denene Witherspoon told ABC 7.

Fields now leaves behind her 2-month-old son, Anuel Perez, along with two other children, ages 3 and 5. Sanford Rubenstein, the attorney representing Fields, is standing with the family to demand better maternal care for Black mothers.

“This should not be happening in this city,” he said.