After having a near-fatal childbirth, tennis champion Serena Williams is investing in a tech company aimed at improving maternal healthcare.
After giving birth to her daughter Alexis Olympia in 2018, Serena shared the life-threatening complications she experienced during the delivery process while noting how black women are three times more likely to die from pregnancy or childbirth-related causes.
It appears it was her own personal experience that has prompted the professional athlete to join a $3 million round for pre- and post-natal health tech company, Mahmee, Fortune reports.
“I am incredibly excited to invest and partner with Mahmee, a company that personifies my firm’s investment philosophy,” Williams said in a statement. “Given the bleak data surrounding maternal death and injury rates, I believe that it is absolutely critical right now to invest in solutions that help protect the lives of moms and babies.”
Mahmee connects patients with a trained “maternity coach” who watches for physical or mental red flags. The platform also creates online groups of mothers offering support and sharing their own experiences, Tech Crunch reports.
“In the maternity healthcare process, on the surface, there are generally three or four people involved: the mother, the baby, and each of their physicians. What we don’t see are the many other people helping them: nurses, lactation consultants, midwives, nutritionists, therapists, doulas, home health aides, social workers, and more,” Melissa Hanna, CEO and co-founder of the app said in a statement.
“And this industry is lacking the IT infrastructure needed to connect these professionals from different organizations to each other and to follow and monitor patients across practices and health systems. This missing element creates gaps in care. Mahmee is the glue that connects the care ecosystem and closes the gaps.”
Following the birth of her daughter, Serena penned an open letter for CNN where she described the pulmonary embolism she experienced after giving birth, a condition where one or more arteries in the lungs become blocked by a blood clot.
“Because of my medical history with this problem, I live in fear of this situation. So, when I fell short of breath, I didn’t wait a second to alert the nurses,” she said.
“First my C-section wound popped open due to the intense coughing I endured as a result of the embolism. I returned to surgery, where the doctors found a large hematoma, a swelling of clotted blood, in my abdomen. And then I returned to the operating room for a procedure that prevents clots from travelling to my lungs. When I finally made it home to my family, I had to spend the first six weeks of motherhood in bed.”
“What if we lived in a world where every mother and newborn could receive affordable health care and thrive in life? That world is possible … Every mother, everywhere, regardless of race or background deserves to have a healthy pregnancy and birth. And you can help make this a reality.”
Serena’s investment in Mahmee is what she calls a “critical” step in making progress in that direction.
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