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P&S Journal

P&S Journal: Fall 1994, Vol.14, No.3
Apgar Remembrances
Nicholas P. Christy'51

P&S Special Lecturer in Medicine

When our class encountered Virginia Apgar in the late 1940s, she had just begun the studies of anesthesia in children and of neonatal physiology that would make her name known throughout the world.
We remember her best for her unremitting good cheer, her energy, her great enthusiasm for her subject. We never saw her in a mood other than hypomanic-but a winning, infectious hypomania, not a pathological one. She had a favorite demonstration for medical students: To illustrate the extraordinary diffusive properties of helium, the second-lightest gas after hydrogen (too explosive for safe use in the classroom), she inhaled a few breaths of it herself then spoke to us in a voice now transformed to an absurd, high-pitched squeak. An unforgettable lesson, and one that somehow, like helium itself, typified her enviable buoyancy.


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