Doctors misdiagnosed Oprah’s thyroid problem as a heart issue in 2007, Winfrey told The Los Angeles Times.
Winfrey confronted one of the doctors, who told the television personality “I wasn’t going to have you die on me.”
The interview was to promote her new documentary “The Color of Care.”
Oprah Winfrey spoke out about how medical racism and access to healthcare impacted her own life — including the time a doctor misdiagnosed a thyroid issue that caused heart palpitations.
“And she said, ‘What was I gonna do? You’re Oprah Winfrey, and I wasn’t going to have you die on me without having done everything I thought I could do,'” Winfrey told The Los Angeles Times.
Winfrey said she thought the doctor had acted “irresponsible.”
“And I also thought, for the first time, ‘I can see now that when you show up and you’re a known person, although everybody seems excited to see you, they’re also nervous because they’ve got to also cover themselves,'” Winfrey said.
Winfrey spoke about her experiences as a Black woman when dealing with the healthcare system. The 68-year-old talk show legend said being a celebrity accessing healthcare had its drawbacks, but also its advantages.
“I noticed that things change for you when you are a person who is known. You get the doctor’s appointment. You don’t have to wait in line. You don’t have to deal with a lot of excess delays that other people have. And so I have lived this life of privilege and advantage, and then been exposed to the best of healthcare.
The interview was partly to promote a documentary Winfrey is producing called “The Color of Care,” which tackles racial health inequalities. In the US, racial disparities lead to a lower quality of healthcare and death due to preventable diseases. During the COVID-19 pandemic, people of color and lower-income people were more likely to contract and die from COVID-19.
Winfrey said she was inspired to produce the film after learning of Gary Fowler, a Black man who died on his couch after being rejected from three emergency rooms for COVID-19 symptoms.
Winfrey also revealed during the interview that she had stayed in her home for 322 days straight during the pandemic and will continue to wear masks as a precaution.
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