The Immortal Life Of Henrietta Lacks Essay

1613 Words Feb 4th, 2015 7 Pages
HeLa cells are an immortal cell culture line that have been used to help develop the polio vaccine, understand the effects of radiation, cancer, viruses, and helped lead to advances in cloning and gene mapping. These cells came from one terminally ill woman, Henrietta Lack, who didn’t even know they had been taken from her until she was on her death bed. The author, Rebecca Skloot details the origin and use of the HeLa cell line in her book, “The Immortal Life of Henrietta lacks”. Henrietta was a black woman with a little more than that of an elementary education. She had never even taken a science class, so when she had to get treatment for her aggressive cancer she was lost, because she couldn’t understand the details of what the doctors said to her. Yet the doctors did nothing about this. They did not try and explain anything and they simply ran more tests, or provided more treatment. The doctors were also running experiments on the patients without telling them, as well as collecting cell samples from them for testing and culturing to see if they could be used to for more research.
It is astounding the complete disregard that doctors and scientists had for Henrietta and her family while treating her for her cancer. Their disregard tortured her family, keeping them in the dark while scaring them with cancer threats about how their mother/wife/sibling was immortal. What do you think immortal means to a fifth grader, or someone with a limited scientific understanding?…

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