Virginia Apgar, Honored by Today's Google Doodle, Saved Countless Lives

08 June, 2018, 10:40 | Author: Lillian Steele
  • Dr Virginia Apgar discovered the Apgar score for determining newborn's health immediately after birth

It wasn't until she invented the Apgar score that she began to earn the recognition that she deserved, but she didn't stop there.

Google on Thursday created a doodle to honour Dr Virginia Apgar.

Google is celebrating the 109th birthday of Dr Virginia Apgar, an American obstetrical (relating to childbirth) anesthetist. She was born on June 7, 1909. The test is carried out within five minutes of birth and it takes about a minute to judge if the infant needs any immediate medical attention. Apgar is is an acronym for Appearance, Pulse, Grimace, Activity, and Respiratory effort.

The Apgar score is as follows: "Each newborn is given a score of 0, 1, or 2 (a score of 2 meaning the newborn is in optimal condition, 0 being in distress) in each of the following categories: heart rate, respiration, colour, muscle tone, and reflex irritability". The scores help doctors identify whether a baby has health issues requiring extra care. She was raised in Westfield, New Jersey in the United States.

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Google's Doodle today honors a Mount Holyoke College graduate - Dr. Virginia Apgar. Score above 7 are normal and 4 to 6 are fairly low.

Apart from developing her famous scoring exercise, Dr. Apgar was a notable advocate for universal vaccination in order to combat the rubella epidemic of the mid-Sixties. An anesthesiologist by training, she climbed the ranks at New York's Columbia-Presbyterian Hospital in the 1930s and '40s, when anesthesiology wasn't recognized as a medical specialty. She noticed that the number of infant deaths within the first 24 hours remained high, despite the fact that overall the US infant mortality rate was decreasing. She went on to research birth defects and over the course of her career wrote scientific articles, essays, a book and more. She received a master's degree in public health from Johns Hopkins University in 1959, and was a director at the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis, which is know known as the March of Dimes.

But she could barely spend two years into her surgery residency as the then Chair of Surgery at the institution persuaded her to switch to anesthesia, an uncalled-for move that Columbia University termed "a reflection of the times".

Apgar never married, and died of cirrhosis of the liver at the age of 65.

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