AUSTIN - Twenty-one year old Cassaundra Perkins is described by family as a go-getter who had so much potential.
At this time three years ago, she had received her cosmetology certification, was living on her own and expecting twins.
But Cassaundra's pregnancy was soiled with complications and 22 trips to the emergency room.
"She had had an infection when she was pregnant but, of course, having the infection they couldn't treat her normally because of the pregnancy, trying to preserve the babies," explained her mother Cheryl Perkins.
"At six months, her liver started failing, nothing had been working," Perkins added.
Perkins said her daughter made the decision to save the twins and had an emergency c-section. Two weeks later, she died. Perkins believes it was a combination of the infection and the fact that doctors later found out they left part of Cassaundra's placenta inside of her.
"I think the infection was, was, was too much. They just didn't catch it, you know, couldn't do enough for her," said Perkins.
Unable to bear the constant reminders of her daughter in their San Antonio home, Perkins moved to Austin where she now takes care of her daughter's twins and their older sister.
"I think about her every single day, but I know that this has happened for a reason and a purpose," she said.
Representative Shawn Thierry (D-Houston) believes she's a part of that purpose. Wednesday afternoon she presented Perkins with a memorial certificate and flag in honor of her daughter, plus a bill dedicated to Cassaundra and all the mothers who lost their lives having children.
"We can turn the pain into purpose," said Thierry.
Thierry, who herself almost died during birth, is the author of House Bill 11 (HB11), which she calls the Texas Moms Matter Act.
More Texas women die during and after child birth than anywhere else in the United States or in any other developed country.
HB11 aims to address maternal mortality by extending the life of the task force studying the issue and expanding what they study to include the socioeconomic status of the mothers and best practices of other states.
Thierry said she wants the task force to take a bottoms-up approach to searching for solutions.
"It's only logical that if we're to reduce the maternal mortality rate, we must focus on the women who experience the most medical complications and who are dying at the highest rate and have the worst outcomes," she said.
The group that experiences the most complications is Black women, like Cassaundra -- who are three times more likely to die than any other group.
"By examining the medical complications and factors that are affecting those that are dying at the greatest numbers we will automatically, simultaneously find solutions to reduce pregnancy related deaths for all Texas moms so everyone will benefit," Thierry added.
Unlike the Senate bill on maternal mortality, Thierry's won't have the task force look for ways to save money. The Representative said the mothers need more resources, not less.
Her bill was heard in the House Committee on Public Health and was left pending.
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