Today, Google is celebrating Dr Virginia Apgar’s 109th birth anniversary in the form of an animated google doodle. As a tribute to the obstetrical anesthetist, we bring you the story of Virginia Apgar.
Who was Virginia Apgar?
Virginia was born June 7, 1909, in New Jersey, United States. She was the youngest of the three children of the Apgar family. However, both her elder brothers died due to chronic diseases, which is considered to be one of the reasons for Virginia’s keen interest in the field of medicine. she graduated from Westfield High School, knowing what she had to pursue in life.
After joining Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, she completed her residency in surgery in 1937. She was encouraged by Dr Allen Whipple to study anesthesiology.
After starting her work in New York, the doctor was deeply traumatized after seeing the condition of infants who had a breathing problem or some other issue and how they were declared dead by the hospital and eventually left to die. This encouraged the doctor to do something for such infants and as a result, Dr Virginia Apgar made the ‘Apgar Score’.
The Apgar Score
Apgar Score was a leading invention by Dr Apgar which soon revolutionized infant treatment. Apgar Score was basically a measurement of the physical conditions of a newborn. The score was obtained by adding points for heart rate, muscle tone, respiration and other such conditions. The test was generally done at one and five minutes after the birth and was eventually conducted again in case low scores were produced. The main purpose of this test was to establish if the infant needs any medical treatment or medical attention immediately, this was not used to predict future vulnerability to any form of medical illness. Apgar’s work contributed to a drop in deaths, from one in 30 in the 1950s to one in 500 today. The Apgar score is still used in some hospitals in the US.
Honors and achievements
- She was given the honorary doctorates from the Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania.
- She was also given the prestigious Elizabeth Blackwell award in the year 1966.
- The Alumni Gold medal was given to her from Columbia University in the year 1973.
- She was also elected as the Woman of the Year in Science by the Lady Home Journal in 1973.
- She was also given the Distinguished Service Award from the American Society of Anesthesiologists
- In the year 1949 Virginia Apgar became the first woman professor at the Columbia University College where she remained until 1959.
Apgar was also known for her good sense of humor and energy at work. She never got married or had kids of her own rather she spent all her life treating other kids. On one event where she was asked why she never got married, she stated: “I never found a man who could cook”. Her work has truly changed the lives of many people and she undoubtedly was a great medical pioneer who touched milestones which no one ever crossed. Virginia Apgar died in the year 1974 due to cirrhosis in her liver