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Wednesday, April 7, 2010 as of 11:14 AM ET

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  • Christy Turlington debuts shortfilm, runs marathon to raise awareness for global maternal care

    Oct. 26: In this photograph taken by AP Images for Luna, Christy Turlington Burns, fashion icon and global maternal health advocate, addresses the crowd during the 11th annual LUNAFEST film festival at Tribeca Cinemas in New York. (AP)

    When Christy Turlington Burns gave birth to her daughter Grace  in 2003, her life changed in more ways than just becoming a mom.

    After suffering a postpartum hemorrhage that doctors managed to successfully stop, the former model tells FOX411 that she simply couldn’t get the  idea of maternal deaths around the world out of her mind.

    “I knew that many women were having the same complication I had while delivering my daughter and were dying without the proper medical care,” Turlington, 41, said. “ I needed to know more and I couldn’t go on with my life until I did.”

    Turlington Burns at LunaFest. (AP)

    Turlington began traveling around the world, examining the barriers of medical care in poor countries.

    “There is such a lack of access, so many women suffering because of lack of transportation and skilled providers, among other things,” she learned. “Anyone who has a child can understand and empathize.”

    So, raising awareness for maternal care around the world became Turlington’s life mission, and is the subject of her new upcoming documentary, “No Woman, No Cry,” as well as  a short film entitled “Every Mother Counts: Obstetric Fistula,” which she debuted at the Luna Film Festival in New York City last month.

    “Every Mother Counts” looks at women in Bangladesh and Tanzania, who suffer from pain, shame, the loss of their child and their ability to conceive once again after suffering a fistula.

    “For every woman who dies in childbirth, there are 20 others who survive and suffer with fistula,” which is a condition where a hole develops between the rectum and vagina or the bladder and vagina after severe stresses from a prolonged labor process.

    The footage was turned into the shortfilm for LunaFest, which is a traveling film festival showing films by women and about women, after being leftover from Turlington’s documentary, “No Woman, No Cry.”

    Turlington said that submission of the short film to LunaFest meant raising awareness for her cause, as the festival’s goal is to “raise funds and awareness for causes that help, empower and give a voice to women from all walks of life.”

    “There’s no better tool than film to bring stories to women who don’t have a chance to travel the world,” Turlington said.

    This undated photo courtesy of Clancy McCarty shows Christy Turlington Burns, left, and Nicolas Newbold, co-captain of Team Every Mother Counts, as they jog over the Brooklyn Bridge in New York. (AP)

    The wife of filmmaker Ed Burns, she also ran the New York City marathon Sunday to help raise awareness for her charity, also called Every Mother Counts.

    “In maternal health, distance makes a huge difference, and this is a perfect way to explain that,” she told the Associated Press. “Five K is the minimum distance a woman has to walk to get to a clinic in many places, and in many places that could be 35K. You’d be surprised that it could be this way in the U.S., but a lot of hospitals have closed. … Whenever I travel, I note whether there’s a paved road or not, if there’s emergency transportation or not. Sometimes it’s a bicycle with a flatbed on the back.”

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