Henrietta Lacks Critique

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The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks Ethical Book Critique
Andrea Burroughs
University of Alabama at Birmingham

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks was written by Rebecca Skloot who is from Springfield, Illinois. She is an award winning science writer. She first became familiar with the name Henrietta Lacks and HeLa in her college biology class. She was so intrigued with the information her professor Dr. Defler provided that she immediately went home to research more about this and searched the topic “cell culture” in her biology textbook index. She found the following parenthetical, In culture, cancer cells can go dividing indefinitely, if they have a continual supply of nutrients
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But the sad part of this story, is that the original source, Henrietta Lacks was unknown and her family never knew these cells existed. This book tells two stories; the first is the story of the development of the HeLa cell line and of Henrietta Lacks and her descendants.
Henrietta Lacks was lying unconscious on the operating table. When she signed her consent form before her operation it only stated that she gives the John Hopkins staff permission to perform any operative procedures. With that being said Dr. Wharton removed two samples of her tissue from her cervix without even notifying her. Even though informed consent was still in its infancy, doctors had every right to use Lacks’s cells for their research. John Hopkins Hospital, where Ms. Lacks received her care, did not have Institutional Review Board (IRB) to govern and approve their research protocols.
I agree with the doctors in wanting to develop a cure for various illnesses. My only issue this particular point is that they didn’t inform her. Even though they had every right to not tell her, I still believe they would be courteous and have the decency to tell her that they believe her cells can change the

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