The Life Of Henrietta Lacks: The Immortal Life?

Superior Essays
Is it possible to live forever? To many, the idea of being immortal is preposterous. But many have debated that the cells of Henrietta Lacks are immortal, and thus so is she. Her cells have lived long after she passed away in 1951. The historical nonfiction book The Immortal Life Of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot tells of a African-American woman named Henrietta Lacks who died from cervical cancer. Throughout her sickness her visits to the doctor can best be described as skeptical. Living in the 1940’s racism may have played a role in her questionable treatment. The biggest issue that arose from her treatment was that cells were removed from her tumor without her informed consent. These cells would go on to be immortal and revolutionize …show more content…
One can argue that doctors didn’t act out of line because Henrietta Lacks signed a consent form prior to receiving treatment for her cancer. It is true that Henrietta signed a consent form, but the consent form she signed was giving permission to the doctor to do what was necessary to help her get better not go start their own research project on her. Henrietta was treated similar to a test subject by having her body poked in and tested on as if she was a Science experiment. The consent form Henrietta signed read, “I hereby give consent to the staff of The Johns Hopkins Hospital to perform any operative procedures and under any anesthetic either local or general that they may deem necessary in the proper surgical care and treatment (blank)." (Pg. 31) This is an extremely vague consent form, what exactly do doctors deem necessary? But regardless what 's deemed necessary the consent form says it 's for the treatment of Henrietta Lacks not for doctors to remove cells and test on her. The removal of those cells in no way helped her get better in her fight with cancer. Henrietta was being treated with radium. And radium could possibly kill cancer cells but, it also “kills any cells it encounters and patients who have taken radium also began dying.” (Pg. 32) Using high doses of radium can also cause mutations which may turn into cancer. So, …show more content…
Her immortal cells will always continue to live on, but only after Henrietta and her family faced many obstacles. Henrietta lived her life being exploited by researchers. Her or her family never got any recognition or compensation for Henrietta 's role and contribution to Science via the HeLa cell line. Doctors also abused their power and acted inhumanely when caring for her and trying to treat her cancer by taking the cells in the first place. Not much of anything that was done to Henrietta Lacks by doctors and researchers could be justified. Henrietta’s cells have revolutionized Science, but never did she receive the credit she should

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