The Immortal Life Of Henrietta Lacks, By Rebecca Skloot

1774 Words 8 Pages
Morality is defined by discerning right from wrong, which is something scientists who conducted human research were unable to do. In the book, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, written by Rebecca Skloot, Henrietta Lacks is an African-American woman who developed an aggressive form of cervical cancer. Although she is treated for the cancer, the treatment is executed much later than if she had been a white woman. During her first operation to treat the cancer, the surgeon removed two pieces of tissue from her cervix to give to George Gey, the head of tissue research at Johns Hopkins. The story unfolded after Henrietta died months later, and then after a couple decades the family began to discover the truth of her death, and the cells which …show more content…
Henrietta wasn’t the first African-American to be tested and researched, in the case of which, Skloot relayed information about a study at the Tuskegee Institute, “They recruited hundreds of African-American men with syphilis, then watched them die slow, painful, and preventable deaths, even after they realized penicillin could cure them” (Skloot 50). Medical research mainly focused on minorities in the early to middle twentieth century, with this in mind, these studies were where the immorality was rooted. Not to mention, to bring ill men in for the sole purpose of watching them die seemed pure evil. This study, along with hundreds of others, brought about the reason why African-Americans could no longer trust their doctors and hospitals. After Henrietta’s cells had been exposed to the world, a virologist by the name of Chester Southam began his own study of cancer research, “He repeated this process with about a dozen other cancer patients. He told them he was testing their immune systems; he said nothing about injecting them with someone else’s malignant cells” (Skloot 128). In the first place, Southam’s research was extremely over the line in regards to cancer research. All things considered, to inject already sick patients with cancer cells is illogical, and although some …show more content…
Her husband and children had had some blood testing done, but Henrietta’s first daughter, Elsie, had been sent to Crownsville, a mental institution for the Negro insane. Ar Crownsville, far worse tests had been constructed. Skloot states, “I later learned that while Elsie was at Crownsville, scientists conducted research on the patients without their consent, including a study titled ‘Pneumoencephalographic and skull x-ray studies in 100 epileptics’ […] involved drilling holes into the skulls of research subjects […] to allow crisp x-rays of the brain through the skull” (Skloot 276). Correspondingly, Crownsville went about doing these horrific studies because they knew that their patients would be unable to defend themselves, nor give a decent form of voluntary consent. The patients were viewed as inferior, therefore, nobody had cared to think how they would feel about going to sleep one night and then waking up with holes in their head. It makes one wonder if evil scientists do exist in the world, since they were willing to disobey universal human rights and laws. They, instead, do their own thing and don’t care about the human on the other side of the work, due to the fact, that that person is considered mentally ill in some shape or form. Since the study was done on epileptics, it can be assumed that Elsie was involved in them. So, when Deborah read over Elsie’s

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