She may not be well-known in the United Kingdom but she worked in obstetrics and created the "Apgar score" which is given to newborns to quickly assess their health.
Today's Google Doodle (June 7) celebrates what would have been her 109th birthday, and features a cartoon of her conducting her namesake test. Dr Apgar developed the score in 1952 to quantify the effect of obstetric anaesthesia on babies.
The US clinician was born in 1909 in Westfield, New Jersey to a musical family.
As a medical student, Apgar noted that a number of babies that had seemed healthy at birth were dying soon after leaving the hospital. This five-step test has doctors examine the appearance, pulse, grimace, activity, and respiration of newborns. While those accomplishments are impressive, particularly for a woman at the time, her real contribution to the world is the so-called Apgar Score.
Each of these categories in Dr. Apgar's test earns the baby between zero and two points, depending on the health of the response. A higher score in the test means less threat to the baby's survival.
A score lower than 7 should warn caregivers that the baby needs medical attention.
Apgar graduated from the College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia University in the U.S. with flying colours. She went on to research birth defects and over the course of her career wrote scientific articles, essays, a book and more. Apgar's work on prevention of infant mortality was eventually recognised as she was inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame in the US. In 1949, Virginia Apgar became the first the professor of anesthesiology at the College of Physicians and Surgeons.
Dr Virginia Apgar received a degree in public health from John Hopkins University in 1959.
Virginia Apgar was trained as a surgeon who specialised in anaesthesiology. She was discouraged from practising surgery as a career, her University chose her male colleague to head the department even though she was seniormost, and she had to fight for equal pay.
Apgar was quick to realise the trend and concentrated on the methods for decreasing the infant mortality rate specifically within the first 24 hours of the newborn's life. On August 7, 1974, she died of cirrhosis of the liver at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center. She breathed her last at the age of 65.