Informed Consent: The Case Of Henrietta Lacks

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Henrietta Lacks was a woman who contributed to society and medicine in a way she could not fathom. She would never learn of her contributions and her family would not gain knowledge until after her death. (The Way of All Flesh by Adam Curtis). Doctor Gey, upon obtaining Henrietta 's tissue, violated the Respect for Persons that is part of the Basic Ethical Principals. It states that the individual should be treated as an autonomous person, and that those with impaired autonomy should be protected (Belmont Report). Justice was not carried out for the family of Henrietta Lacks because they were not informed of the scientific accomplishments from their mother’s cells until 1976, twenty-five years after her death. Her children felt injustice because …show more content…
The Informed Consent Principal was diminished because the gynecologist, Dr. Howard Jones, removed cancer cells from Henrietta Lacks and sent them to another doctor, Dr. Gey, to conduct research without her or her family’s consent to do so before hand. Although it is illegal now, there was no ethical laws preventing doctors from removing tissue from a live patient; however, there were laws against removing tissue and cells from a deceased patient. Mary Kubicek removed tumor tissue from Henrietta at the request of Dr. Gey and the family had only given consent to perform an autopsy, not removal of the tissue. (The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, by Rebecca Skloot). After receiving the cells from Dr. Jones, Dr. Gey named Henrietta’s cells “HeLa” in order to conceal the identity of the cells from her family as well as from the world, and claimed to receive the cells from a “Helen Lane”. Dr. Gey did not inform the family that he was conducting research on Henrietta’s cells and certainly did not let them know he was going to publically present her cells and announce on television that based on her cells he could find a cure for cancer. We believe that an Informed Consent means to disclose any and all information to the subjects and ensure their comprehension of the information provided and to adequately inform the subjects about the study being carried out, encompassing past results from any previous studies and the results from those studies, as well as, any present participation to be expected from the

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