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'She was magic personified': Former Chiefs cheerleader Krystal Anderson dies after childbirth

Krystal Anderson
Clayton and Krystal Anderson
Posted at 6:57 AM, Apr 01, 2024
and last updated 2024-04-02 07:17:06-04

KANSAS C ITY, Mo. — Clayton Anderson had big plans for his engagement to his wife, Krystal Anderson: he wanted to propose at a Michelin star restaurant in Montreal, since they were both big foodies.

"The table next to us was like three or four guys that were celebrating a big business deal and I was like, 'I can't do it right now,'" Clayton said. "And good for them, they weren't trying to get in our way or anything, so we ended up just walking back to the Airbnb. We had this big romantic dinner planned and we ended up getting engaged on a couch in an Airbnb with 'Law & Order' on."

It wasn't the original plan, but still a comical memory, and a beautiful one, because he was starting his "forever" with his person.

"She just had this excitement and joy for life and that’s contagious," Clayton said. "And that just made me want to do life with her."

Krystal was a former Chiefs cheerleader for 10 years. She was a cheerleader both on and off the field.

"She was going to meet you, make you be her friend and then cheer you on," Clayton said. "She wanted nothing more than to see her friends do great things."

Some of her closest friends of nearly 20 years, Shanna, Mallory and Jeneé, agree.

"She brought joy, she brought kindness, she brought caring, she brought determination," Shanna Adamic said. "She was fiercely loyal and she just went all in."

They say Krystal was "magic personified."

"As soon as she connected with you as a person, you became her person," Adamic said. "She truly had magic and she gave her whole heart to everything."

Krystal and Clayton were adding more magic to their family, as they were getting ready to welcome their baby girl Charlotte after the stillbirth of their son James more than a year ago.

"We loved hearing our baby girl's heartbeat, that’s the best sound in the world," Clayton said.

Due to the stillbirth of James, Crystal and Clayton had a plan with High Risk Maternal Fetal Medicine.

"We got our plan week 14 and we were going to come back in and look at week 16," Clayton Anderson said. "At week 16, we noticed Krystal’s cervix should have preventive action to make sure we don’t deliver early. It’s called a cerclage, it’s like a stitch you can put in the cervix to make sure you get to viable age and we were already targeting week 36, 37 time frame to deliver."

Clayton said that throughout the entire pregnancy, they "were doing everything advised from a preventive standpoint to get to successful birth."

They were supposed to have appointments at week 14, 16, 18, 20 and 23 with maternal and fetal medicine.

"We met at 14, met at 16, they put the cerclage in and they said, 'We don’t need to see you until week 20, because that’s the best preventive action you could have, canceling week 18,'" Clayton said. "When we got to our week 20 appointment, it’s two-part. You basically look at baby first and big girl, everything looks good. Everything’s just ticking right along and we were like, 'You are a lot bigger than your brother was.' And then we looked at Krystal and it was like, it’s called hourglassing, when we noticed some of the amniotic sac was coming through the cerclage and so it looks open, like an hourglass."

Clayton was told the new target goal was week 22, not 36, due to the hourglassing and Krystal's body trying to give birth, unable to correct the cerclage because it's hourglassed too far.

"What I thought a lot about since is, could we have noticed the cerclage wasn’t working as we had hoped it would earlier, maybe like week 18 and potentially corrected it then," Clayton said. "You think a lot about it what ifs and don’t know for sure, but it sure would’ve been reassuring to keep that week 18 appointment and know if there’s something we could do to help mom at that point instead of waiting four weeks."

Krystal sought hospitalization during her 21st week of pregnancy with Charlotte.

"Everything happened so fast. We went to go get a check at the OB emergency room as of 5:30 that Saturday the 16th, everything looked good," Clayton Anderson said. "Big girl, she was measuring at 22 weeks and we were only 20 weeks and four days. Heart just ticking right along. 158 beats per minute; got pictures and everything, she’s beautiful. And because of the presence of amniotic fluid and the ultra sounds mismatching, they didn’t look the same as the Tuesday prior, they looked better, but there was confusion why they looked so different in four days."

They decided to stay the night at the hospital and a nurse went to check the heart tones. After not finding it, the radiology team came in to do a full ultrasound.

"That’s when we saw, she was there, she was perfectly fine, she wasn't moving," Clayton said. "And there was no red and blue on the screen anymore. There was no heartbeat around 8:45, 9 o'clock that night. So somewhere in between 5:30 and 8 o'clock, we lost her."

After grieving over their baby girl, Clayton mentioned Krystal started not feeling well.

"About 2 in the morning, she started getting a fever and started saying 'I'm really cold and shaky,' and they were holding her hand but she was needing medical attention at that point," Clayton Anderson said. "The labs came back and that’s when we knew there was a problem, it’s called acidosis, it's when your lactic acid levels are too high."

Clayton says Krystal's were skyrocketing.

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"At that point the medical team came in and said, 'you know, we’re sorry for your loss, but we have to take care of you now,'" Clayton Anderson said. "So, they got Krystal ready for surgery, and we asked them if there was a way we can hold Charlotte in a way that we would be able to hold our baby girl, cause we did get to hold James."

Krystal went on a ventilator and a dialysis machine. After complete lung, liver and kidney failure and three surgeries, Krystal passed away March 20.

"We never thought this would happen," Clayton Anderson said. "Within the span of three days we went from thinking everything was fine and all we had to do was get to week 22, to … I lost everything."

Clayton says the system needs to change.

"We gotta do a better job for our mothers," Clayton said. "If we don’t make changes to how we take care of pregnancy, particularly Black women, women of color pregnancies, nothing is ever going to change."

According to Sepsis Alliance, Black women have more than twice the risk of severe maternal sepsis compared to white women. According to the CDC, "Black women are three times more likely to die from a pregnancy-related cause than White women. Multiple factors contribute to these disparities, such as variation in quality healthcare, underlying chronic conditions, structural racism, and implicit bias."

To learn more about ways to reduce Black maternal mortality, clickhere.

As friends and family continue to push for change, they also want to remind Kansas City about the joy and the sparkle of Krystal Anderson.

"She’s always going to be my wife, the mother to our children and she would be upset if I wasn’t here taking care of our dogs, her fur babies," Clayton said. "I’m gonna take care of these boys, while she’s up there taking care of our babies."

According to Krystal's GoFundMe page, more than $77,000 has been raised so far to support Krystal's family. To learn more about Krystal's story or donations, click here.

Editor's note: The photographer who contributed images to this story is AlexisGianPhotography. The photographer's name was not spelled correctly on-the-air.