Discrimination blamed for death of woman mocked in ambulance call

Discrimination has been blamed in part for the death of a 22-year-old mother of one who called for an ambulance but was told that everyone dies.

Naomi Musenga, from Strasbourg, called the city’s emergency services late last year but was greeted with disdain by the operator, who threatened to hang up when she moaned and did not say immediately what was wrong with her and said she was going to die.

“You are certainly going to die someday, like everybody,” the operator said in a recording obtained by Heb’di.

Musenga was told to call a doctor service for her severe stomach ache rather than an ambulance, and she died several hours later after finally making it to a hospital, where an autopsy showing she had a heart attack as well as breathing problems.

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Naomi Musenga, French woman who died after being mocked during ambulance call
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Naomi Musenga, French woman who died after being mocked during ambulance call
The 22-year-old was told to call a doctor rather than an ambulance, and she died several hours later. 
(From L) Family members of Naomi Musenga , her sister Louange, father Mukole, mother Honorine and Mohamed Aachour lawyer for the family of Naomi Musenga who died at the end of December 2017 after being mocked by a telephone operator of the emergency service Samu of Strasbourg answer journalists on May 10, 2018 in Strasbourg, eastern France. - French prosecutors opened an inquiry on May 9 into the death of a young woman just hours after her distress call to emergency services was mocked by the operator, prompting a public outcry and renewed calls for more funding for health services. (Photo by FREDERICK FLORIN / AFP) (Photo credit should read FREDERICK FLORIN/AFP/Getty Images)
(From L) Family members of Naomi Musenga , her sister Louange, father Mukole, mother Honorine and Mohamed Aachour lawyer for the family of Naomi Musenga who died at the end of December 2017 after being mocked by a telephone operator of the emergency service Samu of Strasbourg answer journalists on May 10, 2018 in Strasbourg, eastern France. - French prosecutors opened an inquiry on May 9 into the death of a young woman just hours after her distress call to emergency services was mocked by the operator, prompting a public outcry and renewed calls for more funding for health services. (Photo by FREDERICK FLORIN / AFP) (Photo credit should read FREDERICK FLORIN/AFP/Getty Images)
(From L) Relatives of Naomi Musenga, who died at the end of December 2017 after being mocked by a telephone operator of the emergency service Samu of Strasbourg, her sister Louange, her father Mukole and mother Honorine answer journalists on May 10, 2018 in Strasbourg, eastern France. - French prosecutors opened an inquiry on May 9 into the death of a young woman just hours after her distress call to emergency services was mocked by the operator, prompting a public outcry and renewed calls for more funding for health services. (Photo by FREDERICK FLORIN / AFP) (Photo credit should read FREDERICK FLORIN/AFP/Getty Images)
(From L) Relatives of Naomi Musenga, who died at the end of December 2017 after being mocked by a telephone operator of the emergency service Samu of Strasbourg, her father Mukole and mother Honorine answer journalists on May 10, 2018 in Strasbourg, eastern France. - French prosecutors opened an inquiry on May 9 into the death of a young woman just hours after her distress call to emergency services was mocked by the operator, prompting a public outcry and renewed calls for more funding for health services. (Photo by FREDERICK FLORIN / AFP) (Photo credit should read FREDERICK FLORIN/AFP/Getty Images)
(From L) Relatives of Naomi Musenga, who died at the end of December 2017 after being mocked by a telephone operator of the emergency service Samu of Strasbourg, her father Mukole and mother Honorine answer journalists on May 10, 2018 in Strasbourg, eastern France. - French prosecutors opened an inquiry on May 9 into the death of a young woman just hours after her distress call to emergency services was mocked by the operator, prompting a public outcry and renewed calls for more funding for health services. (Photo by FREDERICK FLORIN / AFP) (Photo credit should read FREDERICK FLORIN/AFP/Getty Images)
(From L) Relatives of Naomi Musenga, her sister Louange, father Mukole, mother Honorine and Mohamed Aachour lawyer for the family of Naomi Musenga who died at the end of December 2017 after being mocked by a telephone operator of the emergency service Samu of Strasbourg answer journalists on May 10, 2018 in Strasbourg, eastern France. - French prosecutors opened an inquiry on May 9 into the death of a young woman just hours after her distress call to emergency services was mocked by the operator, prompting a public outcry and renewed calls for more funding for health services. (Photo by FREDERICK FLORIN / AFP) (Photo credit should read FREDERICK FLORIN/AFP/Getty Images)
(From L) Relatives of Naomi Musenga, her sister Louange, father Mukole, mother Honorine and Mohamed Aachour lawyer for the family of Naomi Musenga who died at the end of December 2017 after being mocked by a telephone operator of the emergency service Samu of Strasbourg answer journalists on May 10, 2018 in Strasbourg, eastern France. - French prosecutors opened an inquiry on May 9 into the death of a young woman just hours after her distress call to emergency services was mocked by the operator, prompting a public outcry and renewed calls for more funding for health services. (Photo by FREDERICK FLORIN / AFP) (Photo credit should read FREDERICK FLORIN/AFP/Getty Images)
Mohamed Aachour (C) and Nicole Radius (R), lawyers for the family of Naomi Musenga, who died at the end of December 2017 after being taunted by a telephone operator of the emergency service Samu of Strasbourg respond to journalists on May 9, 2018 in Strasbourg, eastern France. (Photo by FREDERICK FLORIN / AFP) (Photo credit should read FREDERICK FLORIN/AFP/Getty Images)
Mohamed Aachour (C) and Nicole Radius (R), lawyers for the family of Naomi Musenga, who died at the end of December 2017 after being taunted by a telephone operator of the emergency service Samu of Strasbourg respond to journalists on May 9, 2018 in Strasbourg, eastern France. (Photo by FREDERICK FLORIN / AFP) (Photo credit should read FREDERICK FLORIN/AFP/Getty Images)
Mohamed Aachour (C) and Nicole Radius (R), lawyers for the family of Naomi Musenga, who died at the end of December 2017 after being taunted by a telephone operator of the emergency service Samu of Strasbourg respond to journalists on May 9, 2018 in Strasbourg, eastern France. (Photo by FREDERICK FLORIN / AFP) (Photo credit should read FREDERICK FLORIN/AFP/Getty Images)
Mohamed Aachour (L) and Nicole Radius (R), lawyers for the family of Naomi Musenga, who died at the end of December 2017 after being taunted by a telephone operator of the emergency service Samu of Strasbourg respond to journalists on May 9, 2018 in Strasbourg, eastern France. (Photo by FREDERICK FLORIN / AFP) (Photo credit should read FREDERICK FLORIN/AFP/Getty Images)
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Her family, now caring for her 1-year-old daughter, has called out for more information about whether a response from the ambulance team would have saved their loved one’s life.

The story has spread from Strasbourg across the country, France’s Center for the Observation of Inequalities, called Codi, has organized a rally for Wednesday, along with a march in the young woman’s memory organized by “Justice for Naomi Musenga.”

Codi’s Thierry Paul Valette told Le Parisien that Musenga was a victim of discrimination, and that her age is “certainly something that played in her disfavor.”

Dr. Baptiste Beaulieu, who is also an author, told 20 Minutes that that the fact that Musenga’s name does not sound European may have played a role in her call not being taken seriously.

He said that some medical caregivers reference “Mediterranean syndrome” and believed that patients from certain countries exaggerate the pain of their symptoms.

The family has said they do not want to concentrate on the operator but on the system itself, which the operator’s lawyer told BFMTV was to blame for overworking its employees.

The operator herself, who has not been identified, told a French program that the quality of answering “degrades” during long sessions on the phone.

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