Sabrina De la Rosa was a woman who understood her worth. Her mother, Monica, recalls her leaving a job and saying “they just don’t know my value, mom. They just don’t know my worth.” It was that empowerment that she passed on to her three children and planned to pass on to her fourth. And it was that empowerment that made the negligent care that led to her death all the more heartbreaking.
Sabrina couldn’t wait for the birth of her fourth child. Her creative and adventurous spirit meant that she and her family were always trying new activities—playing with recipes, music, and dance. She had a gift for caregiving and forgiveness that, combined with her own upbringing, inspired her dream to open a group home for troubled kids.
When Sabrina began having contractions during her fourth pregnancy, she also began to experience an unbearable pain that she had not felt during her previous three pregnancies. When she arrived at the hospital with concerns, she was briefly checked and sent home. When the pain persisted and increased in intensity, she returned to the hospital, where she was given two doses of Fentanyl. Minutes later, Sabrina emerged from the bathroom foaming at the mouth and collapsed on her boyfriend. As Sabrina’s boyfriend yelled for help, the nurses yelled at him to leave the room.
She was left lying unconscious on the hospital floor for 15 minutes until someone placed her back on the bed in the same unsterile room. Meanwhile, her medical providers called a code blue and began rushing in and out calling for medications and kits that took too long to arrive.
When Sabrina’s mom, Monica, ran to her room she watched as medical staff rushed in the other direction with Sabrina’s baby, Jaxx.
It wasn’t until fifteen minutes after Monica arrived that Sabrina’s doctor finally showed up. But Monica explains that, “He didn’t physically do anything while he was there. It just looked off to me. Why was he just standing there?” When Sabrina’s primary doctor finally arrived, he watched in silence as the medical staff attempted to revive Monica’s daughter.
But it was too late, Sabrina’s heart had stopped. Monica will never forget the image of her daughter in those last minutes: “She was lying in a puddle of blood from the nape of her neck all the way down to her feet. Blood was everywhere.”
Sabrina is survived by her baby Jaxx. Had the doctor physically and thoroughly evaluated Sabrina the multiple times she visited complaining of severe pain, he may have discovered her ruptured placenta that was flooding her bloodstream with amniotic fluid. But following Sabrina’s death, the family learned that her doctor was on probation for gross negligence. He had harmed at least six patients, was accused of sexual misconduct with another, and had been charged with 32 felonies related to medical fraud for which he had been arrested only four months prior.
Since Sabrina’s death, Monica, Sabrina’s siblings and her children live with a feeling of hollowness. Considering all that happened to her precious daughter, she is trying to be forgiving like Sabrina. Monica supports updating California’s 1975 law that limits compensations for mothers like Sabrina who have died due to medical negligence. She believes that families and injured patients deserve resources to seek justice and to hold providers accountable.
Even though the sting of Monica’s pain is almost unbearable, she uses it to fight for the protection of future mothers and patients.