The name Apgar is well known among neonatologists as well as obstetricians and anesthetists. The Apgar score has become a notable concept by now, being an integral part of the evaluation of the condition of the newborn.
Who was Virginia Apgar?
Virginia Apgar was one of the few women, whose career began as a surgeon at the Department of Surgery of the Columbia University in the ’30s. Perhaps typically, but fortunately, the chief surgeon at the time considered her unsuitable for surgical careers, so she became an anesthetist. Soon she founded the Department of Anesthesiology, and became Head of the Department. She was the first woman at the Columbia University in this position.
In 1953 she published a statement recommending a simple score system to evaluate the condition of the newborn. The scoring system allowed quick and easy evaluation of the status of the newborn, which determined the following steps in newborn care, and this proper care saved the lives of many newborns. However, the Apgar score has become the measure of obstetric care, a parameter which is objectively applicable in the evaluation of scientific results.
The life of Virginia Apgar symbolizes the cooperation among three professional areas, obstetrics, anesthesiology and neonatology. As an anesthetist her activities fundamentally determined the development of obstetrics and neonatology.
The board of the Hungarian Society of Perinatology and Obstetric Anesthesiology voted unanimously to donate an annual prize to those who promoted with their outstanding activities the development of obstetrical anesthesia and perinatology, and this award will be named after Virginia Apgar.