Henrietta Lacks Sacrifice

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Henrietta Lacks has helped millions of people throughout the years and most people have no idea who this woman was or what her sacrifice did for mankind. In Zimmer (2013) and Radiolab (2010) we briefly learn about Henrietta, who is more famously known for her cancer cells. She was a poor, uneducated black woman from Baltimore who died at the age of 31 in 1951. She may have been an uneducated woman, however, she did no her own body and she knew something was wrong. She, herself was the first person to notice that she had a growth on her cervix and she needed to have it taken care of. Henrietta went to Jon Hopkins Hospital, which is a teaching hospital and a biomedical research facility, to undergo an exam and have biopsies taken …show more content…
Some of the cells were sent to the lab to find out if the cells were cancerous and other cells went to the research facility. Henrietta gave consent for the Doctors to use her cells for her diagnoses but she was not notified about some of the cells going towards research, therefor, she did not give her consent for these specific cells. Doctors were asked to send other people’s biopsies of cancerous cells to the research facility but all previous specimens were not viable and did not live outside the body. Henrietta’s cells soon showed to be different, they survived and actually grew at exponential speed, which was truly a miracle. Henrietta however died shortly after the biopsies were taken. The cells would soon be named HeLa cells after Henrietta Lacks and would be used in over 74,000 studies. They have helped in the study of biology, helped with important vaccines, and the study of cancer. These cells are so strong that they can be evasive to other cell samples and may contaminate other samples. When researches realized what was happening with the contamination they decided they needed a control sample so they reached out to Henrietta’s family. In 1973 researches approached her family in order to obtain blood …show more content…
Henrietta’s case is very controversial and everyone has their own opinion on what should have been done concerning these cells. Researchers had been obtaining other specimens from other patients in hope that they could find cells that would survive outside the body. Up until Henrietta’s cancerous cells this had not happened. The cells previously were not strong enough to survive. Henrietta’s cells were incredibly strong, they not only survived but they continued to grow and researchers today still have growing HeLa cells. It is believed that Henrietta had the human papillomavirus and it happened to land at specific spot making these cells almost invincible. This was the first time researchers had come across this and it would have been a catastrophe to throw this miracle away, researches jumped at the possibilities these cells had to offer. We also have to take into consideration the time in which these samples were taken. Henrietta did in fact go to Jon Hopkins Hospital for treatment and it is a research facility. Some would believe this fact alone would have been sufficient enough, and that Henrietta should have known that was part of the process. Others could argue that due to Henrietta’s lack of education that she may not have truly understood what exactly was

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