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Apgar score

Today, I want to share one story, which is not money related but life-related, and three powerful ideas I took away from that story:

Meet Virginia Apgar, the unlikely anesthesiologist who saved newborn babies [Massive Science] – “The newborn’s skin was blue and he wasn’t breathing. A few years earlier, the doctors would have documented the baby as stillborn, not believing there was anything they could do to help. If this were the mid-1950s though, a recent development in the field of obstetrics would have given them hope – the Apgar score. The newborn’s 1-minute Apgar score indicated that the newborn was in poor condition, but they treated him with oxygen. Sure enough, his 5-minute Apgar score showed improvement. Maybe he had a chance after all. Virginia Apgar’s invention helps saves newborns.”

1. There are tens of millions of human beings who owe their lives to Virginia Apgar. Probably more like hundreds of millions. How wild is that?

2. She began medical training in 1929 and, as in many fields, women were “drastically underrepresented.” She would become a surgeon but pivoted to anesthesiology because her mentor thought she’d have a hard time attracting patients. As a result, she was present for a lot of births and it’s shocking that 1 in 30 died at birth – in part because obstetricians abandoned babies that looked “too sick to survive.”

Gender discrimination is bad. And after reading this story, you might be tempted to think that gender discrimination is good. It steered her to precisely where she needed to be to devise the Apgar score. In reality, you should think of it as – “gender discrimination created a world in which this level of coincidence was necessary.”

If there were no discrimination, it’s likely someone else, far earlier, could’ve come up with this score. The more brains we have working on a problem, the better, especially on problems that society doesn’t realize are problems!

3. She never retired.