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William Keenan, MD

Dr. William Keenan, a neonatologist at SSM Cardinal Glennon Children’s Medical Center and professor at Saint Louis University School of Medicine, will receive the prestigious Virginia Apgar Award from the American Academy of Pediatrics.

The award will be given Oct. 2 at the American Academy of Pediatrics National Conference & Exhibition in San Francisco.

Keenan, a neonatologist who served as director of the neonatal intensive care unit at SSM Cardinal Glennon for 29 years, is considered a pioneer in the field of neonatal resuscitation. He was one of the founding members of the Neonatal Resuscitation Program, created by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Heart Association.

The Neonatal Resuscitation Program strives to train health care providers worldwide in the proper ways to resuscitate a newborn baby. About 2.2 million professionals have been trained to date. By working with other physicians to create a protocol for neonatal resuscitation, Keenan has been able to positively impact the survival rate of babies around the world.

The death rate for babies has dropped an estimated 70 percent in the United States since the adoption of the Neonatal Resuscitation Program in 1987.

Keenan was an instrumental leader in China’s implementation of the program, traveling more than a dozen times to the country to meet with leaders and teach the international protocol to health care providers. China has experienced a 40 percent drop in infant mortality since adopting the program.

For 30 years, Keenan has spent countless hours caring for premature and very sick babies in the neonatal intensive care unit at SSM Cardinal Glennon Children’s Medical Center and in the region surrounding St. Louis. Dr. Keenan devotes much of his time to traveling to rural hospitals in Missouri and Illinois and caring for sick babies. Thousands of babies have overcome significant obstacles and thrived under Dr. Keenan’s expert care over the past three decades.

"Dr. Keenan has worked tirelessly to improve the lives of babies not just in St. Louis or the United States, but around the globe," said Dr. Robert Wilmott, chief of Pediatrics at SSM Cardinal Glennon Children’s Medical Center and chair of Pediatrics at Saint Louis University School of Medicine. "He has devoted his life to being a determined champion of those who are too small and too sick to help themselves. It is impossible to accurately convey the impact Dr. Bill Keenan has had on the babies and countless families who had little hope without his advocacy and his clinical innovations."

In addition to his responsibilities at SSM Cardinal Glennon and SLU, Dr. Keenan has worked as medical director of International Affairs for the American Academy of Pediatrics. He also serves as co-chairman of the Helping Babies Breathe Global Implementation Task Force. Helping Babies Breathe—an international initiative of the American Academy of Pediatrics, USAID, Save the Children and the World Health Organization—strives to teach simple techniques to help babies who cannot breathe at birth. Most recently, Dr. Keenan has been elected as the executive director of the International Pediatric Association.

A video about Dr. Keenan and his work can be viewed online.

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