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Longtime Kansas City Chiefs cheerleader dies after giving birth

According to an obituary, Krystal Cunningham Anderson died from sepsis after giving birth to her stillborn daughter. She was 40 years old.
Longtime Kansas City Chiefs cheerleader dies after giving birth
Posted at 4:12 PM, Mar 27, 2024

A longtime Kansas City Chiefs cheerleader who had a passion for women’s health and wellness died at 40 shortly after giving birth. 

According to an obituary and a GoFundMe page created to help with medical expenses and a legacy fund, Krystal Cunningham Anderson died on March 20 after a battle with sepsis shortly after she gave birth to her daughter, Charlotte Willow, who was stillborn. 

Anderson experienced organ failure and was placed on life support after giving birth, the GoFundMe page said. She underwent three surgeries "but the source of infection remained elusive.”

The obituary stated she was preceded in death by her infant son, James Charles, and is survived by her parents, brother and her husband of nearly three years, Clayton. 

Anderson was part of the Kansas City Chiefs cheerleading team from 2006 to 2011 and again from 2013 to 2016. The team posted on social media stating they were “deeply saddened” to hear of her passing. 

The post said Anderson had cheered with the team for over 100 games, served as a captain and represented the team in the 2015 Pro Bowl. 

“She was loved and adored by her teammates, fans, and strangers who were never strangers for long,” the team said. “We will miss her kind spirit, joyful energy, and her sparkle.”

Anderson worked as a software engineer at Oracle Health where her passion for improving health care led to her being awarded a patent for developing software that assesses the risk of postpartum hemorrhaging, according to the obituary. She was also a yoga instructor, worked with various philanthropic organizations and advocated for Black women in STEM and women’s health. 

Anderson was originally from Texas but had made Leawood, Kansas her home with her husband, according to the GoFundMe. She graduated from the University of Richmond in Virginia, where she was a member of the Rho Mu chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. 

The Rho Mu chapter has joined several other organizations to host a summit on April 24 at Virginia Union University to discuss maternal and reproductive health and infertility in the Black community. In a post on the chapter’s social media, it encouraged people to attend in memory of Anderson. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, sepsis is the body’s “extreme reaction” to an infection that can rapidly lead to tissue damage, organ failure and death. 

Maternal sepsis causes at least 261,000 maternal deaths globally every year, according to the nonprofit Sepsis Alliance

Recent studies have shown that maternal deaths across the U.S. more than doubled over two decades, with Black women having the highest maternal mortality rate in the country. 

Black women are 3.3 times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than White women, which some experts say is a systemic issue duplicated in all areas of health care. 

SEE MORE: Why do Black women have the highest maternal mortality rates?

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