Essay on The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

1086 Words Sep 23rd, 2014 5 Pages
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks In The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, Rebecca Skloot follows the story of the famous HeLa cell line, introducing us to the woman behind these cells, the family she came from, and how her cells swept the field of science. This book tells the story of how race, poverty, and the practices used in the fields of science and medicine in the last 100 years has led to the many of the modern day innovations we have, all thanks to the HeLa cells. In 1951, a young black woman admitted herself into Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore to have doctors look at what she described as a knot on her womb. It turned out Henrietta had an aggressive case of cervical cancer, and almost 9 months after first visiting …show more content…
Although Henrietta’s cells were thriving worldwide, very few people knew their original host. Newspaper articles and scientific papers were reporting that the He…La… had originally came from a woman named Helen Lane, or even sometimes Helen Lakes or Helen Larson. This would change when the Lacks family first heard of the HeLa cells; nearly 20 years after Henrietta’s cells had first been taken from her. Not only does Skloot follow the development of the HeLa cell line, but she also tells the story of the Lacks family’s history. Their story is most often a painful one, involving poverty, sickness, anger, and fear of the unknown. A major point raised in the book is when Henrietta’s daughter Deborah says that although her mother’s cells led to several medical breakthroughs, their family can’t even afford their own health insurance. The Lackses were left in the dark when it came to the existence of their mother’s cells, and only first heard about them once they were already the foundations for many million dollar industries. This raises issue not only pertaining to the Lacks family, but people all over the world at that time. During the 1900’s, it was very common for doctors, physicians, and researches to use tissue samples from patients without these patients even having any knowledge these tissues were being used. Many of these tissues were used in research, and occasionally led to big breakthroughs, and big money. As mentioned in the book is

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