Kansas City Chiefs Cheerleader Dies Shortly After Giving Birth to Stillborn Daughter

Shanna Adamic/GoFundMe, @chiefscheer/Instagram

Krystal Cunningham Anderson, a cherished former cheerleader for the Kansas City Chiefs and an advocate for women’s health, tragically passed away at the age of 40 shortly after childbirth. Anderson’s life was cut short due to complications from sepsis following the stillbirth of her daughter, Charlotte Willow.

Her battle with the condition led to organ failure, and despite undergoing multiple surgeries, doctors were unable to pinpoint the infection’s source, as shared on a GoFundMe page set up in her memory to assist with medical costs and establish a legacy fund.

Her obituary reveals a life marked by both joy and previous sorrow, noting the loss of her infant son, James Charles, and leaving behind a loving family including her parents, brother, and husband Clayton, to whom she was married for nearly three years.

Anderson’s tenure with the Kansas City Chiefs cheerleading squad spanned several years, from 2006 to 2011 and then from 2013 to 2016. Her dedication to the team was profound, contributing to over 100 games, serving as a captain, and even representing the team at the 2015 Pro Bowl.

The Chiefs organization expressed their grief over her loss, highlighting her infectious spirit, leadership, and the indelible mark she left on both the team and the community. Beyond the cheerleading field, Anderson was a formidable software engineer at Oracle Health, where she combined her technical acumen with her passion for healthcare.

Her innovative work in developing software to assess postpartum hemorrhage risks was recognized with a patent. Anderson was also a yoga instructor and engaged in various philanthropic efforts, particularly advocating for Black women in STEM and addressing women’s health issues. Originally from Texas, Anderson had settled in Leawood, Kansas, with her husband.

She was an alumnus of the University of Richmond in Virginia and an active member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., where she continued to inspire and lead. In her memory, the sorority and other organizations are hosting a summit to discuss maternal and reproductive health challenges in the Black community, underscoring Anderson’s lasting impact and dedication to important causes.

Anderson’s untimely death sheds light on the broader issue of maternal sepsis, a critical condition that the CDC describes as an extreme response to infection, leading to significant mortality rates worldwide. The Sepsis Alliance notes that this condition is responsible for a significant number of maternal deaths globally each year. This tragedy also highlights the alarming rise in maternal mortality rates in the U.S., particularly among Black women, pointing to systemic disparities in healthcare that urgently need addressing.

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