The Tragic Story of Wogene Debele and Maternal Mortality

Wogene Debele, an American citizen from Takoma Park, Maryland, had been coughing for weeks on end before she went to the Holy Cross Hospital in Silver Spring, so that she can see a medical specialist. At the time, Debele was eight months pregnant with her fourth child.

Debele, who is 43, emigrated from Ethiopia almost 10 years ago. She then became part of the close community in Takoma Park, which is a suburb of Washington. D.C. According to Anne Snouck-Hurgronje, a family friend of Debele that has a son who plays football with Naod, Debele’s oldest son, Debele’s family is a great family and it is great to have them as neighbors. Snouck-Horgronje told a story about how she visited the family’s apartment to celebrate the Epiphany, which is a religious festival celebrated in Ethiopia. For Epiphany, Debele cooked a traditional Ethiopian meal, and Yilma Tadesse, Debele’s husband, was exceedingly friendly.

In April of this year, Debele died while giving birth to her fourth child. This was nearly a month after she had checked into the hospital and it hit the entire community very hard. She had been infected with the novel coronavirus. Doctors performed an emergency cesarean section after she checked into the hospital and Levi, her son, was born, healthy, but premature. Unfortunately, after giving birth, Debele’s condition only worsened and she was transferred to the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore, where she died without even getting to meet her newborn baby. According to Snouck-Hurgronje, this is the very definition of tragic.

Maternal mortality is a problem in the United States. Mothers in America were dying at a rather high pace before, as childbirth rates exceeded that of many other developed countries. Just in 2018, 658 women died of maternal causes in the United States, which is a sad figure.