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Published: Sun, June 10, 2018
Medical | By Garry George

Google Doodle honours pioneering clinician Virginia Apgar

Google Doodle honours pioneering clinician Virginia Apgar

Internet giant Google on Thursday, June 6, 2018, celebrated the 109th birth anniversary of American anaesthesiologist Dr Virginia Apgar with a doodle on its homepage.

The Apgar score rates key health metrics like heart rate, respiration, muscle tone, reflex response, and color, on a scale from 0-10.

She gave thousands of babies scores during the 1950s as the rate of infant mortality in the United States began to climb.

In her honour, Google is changing its logo in 15 countries to a doodle, or illustration, of her and the Apgar score. This observation led her to investigate methods of combating infant mortality, eventually resulting in the 1950's invention of the Apgar test, which is still widely regarded as a widely used technique for assessing the health of a newborn.

The revolutionising invention was first used in 1952, and has been used in almost every hospital birth since. In her personal life, Apgar kept herself busy with work, and she never married or had children.

Apgar was able to link the scores to infant mortality, proving that her test could really make a difference.

After leaving high school, Virginia knew she wanted to become a doctor and went on to study zoology with minors in physiology and chemistry at Mount Holyoke College in 1929.

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 anaesthesia, an uncalled-for move that Columbia University termed "a reflection of the times".

Even before she developed the Apgar Score, Dr. Apgar had already become the first female full professor at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. She built P&S's anesthesia division in association with Allen Whipple.

After becoming a leading figure in the fields of anesthesiology and teratology as attending anesthesiologist at Presbyterian Hospital, she assisted in the delivery of close to 20,000 babies.

Apgar, who was born in Westfield in 1909 and died in 1974, was an obstetrical anesthesiologist who developed the five-point assessment created to evaluate a baby's vital signs right after birth. An all rounded personality that she was, she also delivered lectures and seminars about birth defects and early detection. She went on to research birth defects and over the course of her career wrote scientific articles, essays, a book and more. She died of liver cirrhosis on August 7, 1974.

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