Essay On The Immortal Life Of Henrietta Lacks
20 September 2017
Book Review: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
Henrietta Lacks played a pivotal role in scientific cellular research, although she or her family wasn’t given the notoriety that they deserved. Rebecca Skloot investigates the life of Henrietta Lacks and the people that loved her dearly in her book “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.” Given Henrietta’s gifts of fortune or the lack thereof, she was born a black, deprived woman. She barely had the resources for basic human needs.
Skloot learned and soon became fascinate with Henrietta and her cells that were used to create an immortal cell line. Eventually Skloot found herself deeply involved in research about Henrietta …show more content…
Joe was extremely violent and Deborah was in an abusive relationship, early on in her life. As Deborah got older, she learned about Elsie, her older sister who had congenital syphilis and was deaf and mute. Elsie was institutionalized at Crownsville Hospital for the Negro Insane, and eventually died there.
Soon enough Henrietta and her siblings found about their mother’s cells. The family, due to their lack of knowledge about human cells still thought Henrietta was alive. While scientists were making profits off of Henrietta’s cells, the Lack’s family could barely afford a doctor’s visit. The family was clueless of the money that was being made off of their mother.
Skloot and Deborah begin to investigate Henrietta’s life as well as Elsie’s, to uncover the real truth that was hidden for years. Eventually they go to Crownsville and learn about how Elsie was abused and left to die alone. After much heartache and relief, Skloot answers many questions for the Lack’s family. Skloot then created a foundation for the family and tells the word about Henrietta and her contributions to science. While Skloot is searching for answers about Henrietta’s life, she also informs the readers of other unethical treatment towards test subjects, like the Tuskegee syphilis …show more content…
When Skloot has to earn the trust of the Lacks’s family, it shows how badly the scientific community affected them, not only just their mother. Another pivotal point within the book, was when the doctor did not tell Henrietta about the tissue samples. Why was Henrietta not told about the samples? Then after Henrietta dies, her children are cared for by Galen and Ethel who abuse them, and this shows the children in a hopeless situation that they cannot control that will indefinitely determine how the rest of their lives play out. The book also represents the privilege used by scientists over the Lack’s family, their education and possibly race played a huge role in how the Lacks family was treated. At the end of the book, the Lacks family is finally a portion of the respect and dignity they deserve. Unlike the Lacks family, many others who are deprived have been taken advantage of and do not end up with the same result. Not everyone is so lucky, which is disheartening. Throughout the novel, Skloot has a bias in favor of Henrietta, which is completely understandable because of her given circumstances, hopefully most people would