Twitter | Search | |
Mar Hicks Jun 6
Replying to @histoftech
She developed techniques for warming babies and giving them oxygen which resuscitated otherwise "dead" babies.
Reply Retweet Like
Mar Hicks Jun 6
Replying to @histoftech
Through this work, Dr. Apgar developed a series of quick tests for babies right after birth to immediately determine if they were in distress and to regularize standards and procedures for giving them oxygen or other life-saving and life-supporting measures.
Reply Retweet Like
Mar Hicks Jun 6
Replying to @histoftech
(Think about that: her techniques made the difference between a mother being told her child was dead, or being told her child was alive. They made the difference between a large number of people getting to live or die.)
Reply Retweet Like
Mar Hicks Jun 6
Replying to @histoftech
The Apgar test went on to be used so widely in the US and many other countries that some doctors quip we are all seen through Apgar's eyes as we enter the world. Well, those of us born after 1953, at least😉
Reply Retweet Like
Mar Hicks Jun 6
Replying to @histoftech
Apgar's life is an example of a woman making something of a field few cared about at the time, and using her influence, such as it was, to protect some of the most vulnerable patients.
Reply Retweet Like
Mar Hicks Jun 6
Replying to @histoftech
Despite everything she did for children, Apgar never got married or had children of her own. "I never found a man who could cook," she said.👌🏼
Reply Retweet Like
Mar Hicks Jun 6
Replying to @histoftech
That last line seems glib, but think about how much work--cooking, cleaning, childcare, etc.--wives provided in this era to white collar professional men who held jobs like Dr. Apgar.
Reply Retweet Like
Mar Hicks Jun 6
Replying to @histoftech
Her joke zeroes in on the fact that society at the time simply wasn't set up for a woman like her to have a husband and kids and also be able to do the work she did.
Reply Retweet Like
Mar Hicks Jun 7
Replying to @histoftech
I'm glad she chose the latter & did the amazing work she did. We should all work to change the structures in place that force choices like these & hamper so many people in so many walks of life from being able to fulfill their full potential and do what they want & need to do💚
Reply Retweet Like
Mar Hicks Jun 7
Replying to @TechPastPod
And if you like stuff like this (histories of technology, science, & medicine) keep an eye out for my new podcast, . It will delve into how history of sci/tech/med affects us today--often in ways we don't even realize! Coming in late 2018👍🏼
Reply Retweet Like
Mar Hicks
If you'd like to read more about Dr. Apgar, check out this biography of her in their "changing the face of medicine" series:
Reply Retweet Like More
Mar Hicks Jun 7
Replying to @histoftech
Or, for a deep dive, here's the finding aid to her papers, kept at the national Library of Medicine:
Reply Retweet Like
Mar Hicks Jun 7
Replying to @histoftech
I think this quote just about sums up her spirit: "Nobody, but nobody, is going to stop breathing on me!" --Dr. Virginia Apgar, 1950s, on why she kept basic resuscitation equipment with her at all times.
Reply Retweet Like
Mar Hicks Jun 7
Replying to @histoftech
Her name is also memorialized in the processes of the test itself: "APGAR" is the acronym that tells practitioners how to perform the test on an infant's ▪️Appearance ▪️Pulse ▪️Grimace ▪️Activity ▪️Respiration
Reply Retweet Like
Mar Hicks Jun 7
Replying to @histoftech
One thing I didn't point out explicitly but that bears some discussion, is the connection between Dr. Apgar's specialty (anesthesiology) and her famous test.
Reply Retweet Like
Mar Hicks Jun 7
Replying to @histoftech
As I mentioned, she was shunted into anesthesia from surgery because it was seen as, & paid as, a low-value field, & thus more suitable for a woman. In fact, when she became head of anesthesia at Columbia, she had trouble hiring any doctors to work in her division for this reason
Reply Retweet Like
Mar Hicks Jun 7
Replying to @histoftech
Through the mid 1940s she was both the head of the department and the only member of the department! At a major hospital.
Reply Retweet Like
Mar Hicks Jun 7
Replying to @histoftech
Which just goes to show how little regard and precision was applied to anesthetizing people. Yet as we all know today, getting the anesthesia wrong can kill someone or result in brain damage.
Reply Retweet Like
Mar Hicks Jun 7
Replying to @histoftech
And anesthesia was regularly given to those giving birth. Often in amounts and ways that would seem high or inappropriate today. You see where this is going... Doctors weren't paying enough attention to what anesthesia given to mothers was doing to newborns.
Reply Retweet Like
Mar Hicks Jun 7
Replying to @histoftech
Most doctors weren't thinking about all the damage that was being done to neonatal survival by pumping anesthesia through a baby's system just as it was struggling to separate from its mother and come to life independently.
Reply Retweet Like