Analysis Of Skloot's The Immortal Life Of Henrietta Lacks

1200 Words 5 Pages
In Skloot’s (2010) book, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, the author reveals the story about the life of Henrietta Lacks, an African American woman who was diagnosed with a fast-growing cervical cancer at a young age. The cells retrieved from her cervical tumor became the first immortal cell that could survive in the lab and replicate continuously without dying. Without the consent of Henrietta Lacks and her family, these cells later became key components to the development of many groundbreaking inventions such as the polio vaccine and in vitro fertilization. Henrietta Lacks’ cells (HeLa) were discovered during the Jim crow era in the 1950s, where laws were created to enforce racial segregation and unequal treatments to the African American …show more content…
Due to the laws that enforced racial segregation during the Jim Crow period, African Americans Like Henrietta Lacks had less access to health care. Even when African American patients were treated in John Hopkins, they were used as research materials without their consents. They were taken advantage of because they were living in poverty, lacked education and proper understanding of informed consent. Like many doctors and researchers of that time, Richard Wesley TeLinde, a top cervical cancer expert, “often used patients from the public wards for research, usually without their knowledge. Many scientists believed that since patients were treated for free in the public wards, it was fair to use them as research subjects as a form of payment” (Skloot, 2010, p. 29-30). This might’ve been a reason why many African American did not trust the health care system. Up until today, Henrietta Lack’s family are reluctant to seek medical Treatment. Her husband has prostate cancer and asbestos filled lungs, one of her sons has a bad heart, and her daughter has arthritis, osteoporosis, nerve deafness, anxiety, and depression (Skloot, …show more content…
The types of socially structured health disparities for African Americans during the Jim Crow era are closely linked to racial, economic and social disadvantage. African Americans had less access to care due to their skin color and many could not afford to get treated. A social disadvantage is that many African American patients had difficulty seeking hospitals that would provide the care they need. As mentioned Skloot’s book, “This was the era of Jim Crow- when black people showed up at white-only hospitals, the staff was likely to send them away, even if it meant they might die in the parking lot” (Skloot, 2010, p. 15). Instead, people like Henrietta Lacks had to travel longer distance just to find a hospital like John Hopkins that would treat black patients in segregated colored wards that had colored-only fountains (Skloot,

Related Documents