Virginia Apgar: Google Doodle celebrates doctor who PIONEERED life-saving treatment

Google Doodle

The 1929 graduate of the South Hadley women's college is known for creating in 1952 what is called the Agpar score, an internationally recognized screening that quickly evaluates the health of newborns as they take their first breaths of life outside the womb.

The animated doodle for Thursday June 7 shows a woman in lab coat documenting the movements of a newborn positioned atop the words "Apgar".

Apgar even linked the scores to infant mortality; the lowest-scoring babies had a mortality rate of 14%, compared to 0.13% for the highest-scoring babies.

Dr Apgar was born on June 7, 1909 and was raised in Westfield, New Jersey, US.

As a medical student, Apgar noted that a number of babies that had seemed healthy at birth were dying soon after leaving the hospital. The letters of her last name serve as a way for doctors to remember the five things to check for: Appearance, Pulse, Grimace, Activity and Respiration. While those accomplishments are impressive, particularly for a woman at the time, her real contribution to the world is the so-called Apgar Score. The scores help doctors identify whether a baby has health issues requiring extra care. She is known for her work in the fields of anaesthesiology and teratology, a field related to anesthesia (loss of sensation), anesthetics and the study of abnormalities of psychological development in newly-born babies babies. In 1949, she became the first woman to be named a full professor at the medical school she attended, Columbia University's College of Physicians and Surgeons, in New York City.

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Google's Doodle today honors a Mount Holyoke College graduate - Dr. Virginia Apgar. An Apgar Score between 4 and 6 may mean some medical intervention is needed. She went on to research birth defects and over the course of her career wrote scientific articles, essays, a book and more.

She gave thousands of babies scores during the 1950s as the rate of infant mortality in the United States began to climb. And yet, when her division was upgraded to a department, she was passed over for the chair position in favor of a male colleague.

She trained in anaesthesia at the University of Wisconsin and Bellevue Hospital in the U.S., but returned to Columbia-Presbyterian Hospital in 1938.

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

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