P&S Journal: Fall 1994, Vol.14, No.3
Elsie Moore Blunt
Williamsburg, Virginia 1940 Presbyterian Hospital Nursing Graduate
My memories of "Ginny" Apgar go back to 1942. She was chief anesthesiologist for Babies Hospital; I was the new head nurse on BN9, the surgical floor. There were no recovery rooms at that time so patients went to the OR from the ward on the same floor and were returned directly from the OR to their rooms. The sight of her pulling a stretcher, holding an IV aloft, and tearing down the corridor was a familiar one. Her instructions were succinct and always ended with "If you need me-holler." She always visited her patients pre-op and again when they were recovering. I always knew Ginny would take my concerns seriously. We had a great working situation for 10 years. It was built on mutual trust and respect.
She attended our wedding in 1949 (to James W. Blunt Jr.'44) and volunteered her services when our first child was expected in 1952. For almost 24 hours she was either with me or close in touch. We both lamented my inefficiency! To pass the time we discussed her in-progress Apgar studies. My baby would be a part of her research. She explained why she never divulged the score given a baby to the mother: No new mother was objective. I assured her I would be, so, against her better judgment, she told me-and I was less than objective about the 8 my daughter received. She hooted, "I told you so." The first words I heard after delivery were from Ginny-"Wake up, Elsie, I've put a tube down her and a tube up her and they meet." She, more than anyone, knew of my fear of having a child with a congenital anomaly. Two days later I developed a spinal headache. Ginny and I spent most of our time apologizing to each other-she for causing my discomfort and I for breaking her record for no postanesthesia spinal headache.
Over 20 years later, several military female anesthesiologists, on learning that I had known and worked with Ginny, wanted to know all about her. To these women she was almost an icon, a trailblazer in their own field. They were in awe of her and kept asking, "What was she really like?" I regaled them with stories of Ginny, professional, personal, her relationships with people. Their response was, "You make her real. She must have been a great human being."
That she was-an exceptional human being it was my privilege to have known.