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Doctor Virginia Apgar Quotes: Creator of Apgar Scale Honored With Google Doodle

The woman who came up with a scale to rate the health of newborn babies, Dr. Virginia Apgar, would have celebrated her 109th birthday Thursday. The doctor was honored with a doodle on Google’s homepage that showed an animated Apgar checking babies for the five signs she deemed most important right after birth.

Apgar invented the scoring system in 1952, and doctors have been using it for decades since. 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. Her method of rating babies helped lower infant mortality rates and still saves lives today.

Apgar spent her time in college studying zoology while playing on seven sports teams, writing for the school newspaper, playing in the orchestra, holding part-time jobs and more. Once she finished her undergraduate degree, she went on to Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons.

There, she was one of nine women in the entire program, and went on to become an anesthesiologist when it was a budding medical field. Her interests moved to obstetrical anesthesia—and that’s when she came up with the Apgar scale. She went on to research birth defects and over the course of her career wrote scientific articles, essays, a book and more.

She worked almost up until her death at the age of 64.

Five quotes from Dr. Virginia Apgar:

  • "Nobody, but nobody, is going to stop breathing on me!" she said about why she carried resuscitation equipment with her.
  • "Women are liberated from the time they leave the womb," she once said. She didn’t believe that being a woman had impacted her career, according to her National Institutes of Health profile, but sometimes privately expressed frustrations with gender inequality.
  • "Five points—heart rate, respiratory effort, muscle tone, reflex response, and color—are observed and given 0, 1, or 2 points. The points are then totaled to arrive at the baby's score," is how she explained the Apgar score she created in her journal article "Evaluation of the Newborn Infant-Second Report."
  • "It's just that I haven't found a man who can cook," she said about not marrying, CNN reported.
  • "They said they were looking for someone with enthusiasm, who liked to travel and talk. I love to see new places, and I certainly can chatter," she said about the job she took working as the director of the department of birth defects for what is now the March of Dimes.

virginia apgar Doctor Virginia Apgar created the Apgar test to check on the health of newborn babies. Library of Congress