Friday, March 21, 2008

Friday "mie"-ography

This is Virginia Apgar, MD.
Many of you Mommies will recognize her last name, as all of your children were given an Apgar score when they were born. Yep, she is why they get that.
She was born June 7, 1909 in Westfield, New Jersey. She came from a family of amateur musicians, and played the violin,viola, and cello. and more. She became skilled enough herself to play with the Teaneck Symphony.
In 1929, she graduated from Mount Holyoke College, where she had studied zoology along with the pre med curriculum. She supported herself during this time by being a librarian, and a waitress. She also played in the orchestra, earned a "letter" in athletics, and wrote for the school paper...
In 1933, she graduated fourth in her class from Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, and became the fifth woman to hold a surgical internship at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital. In 1935, the end of her internship, she realized that female surgeons had few opportunities. It was the middle of the depression, and few male surgeons were finding positions. So, she transferred to the new medical field of anesthesiology. She spent 1935-1937 as an anesthesia resident at Columbia, and Bellevue hospital. In 1937, she became the 50th physician in the US certified in anesthesiology. In 1938, she was appointed the Director of the Department of Anesthesiology at the Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center, the first woman to head a department at that hospital.
For the next 10 years, she served as a professor of anesthesiology at Columbia University, the first female to be doing that at ANY institution. 1949 was the year she developed the APGAR score for newborns. Before the use of this system, the focus was more on the mother's condition after birth, than the babies condition. It is widely used now in the US, and elsewhere. For those of you that are curious, the APGAR score looks at these things:
Appearance (skin color)
Pulse (heart rate)
Grimace (reflex irritability
Activity (muscle tone)
Respiration (breathing)

She spent lots of time studying how different anesthetics affected newborns, and was instrumental in finding the safest ones for deliveries. In 1959, she left Columbia for Johns Hopkins, where she earned her doctorate, in Public Health, and decided to change her career. She moved into the divisions of congenital malformations, specifically working for the March of Dimes organization, which she helped to refeocus from polio to birth defects. She was also serving on the board of Mount Holyoke College, and lecturing at Cornell University, on birth defects. In 1972, she co wrote a book called "Is My Baby Alright?" which she also published herself.
She also built musical instruments, and learned how to fly, after she was 50 years old. She enjoyed fishing, photography, gardening, and golf. She dies August 7, 1974. She never married.
Her famous quote, which I love is "Women are liberated from the time they leave the womb"


Jo Beaufoix said...

Wow that was really interesting. We use the apgar score in the UK but I never really knew where t came form. Ta Mie.

holly said...

good lord. these women all make me look like a slacker. i gotta get off my duff, make a score, and maybe build some stuff. and be the head of something and in my spare time, compose something. dang!