In 1951, Henrietta Lacks was diagnosed with cervical cancer at John Hopkins Hospital. Without any consent, Henrietta’s doctors took tissue samples from her cervix and attempted to grow them and keep them alive. These cells, known as HeLa cells, began to grow at an unbelievable rate; The HeLa cell became vital for the development of vaccines and other scientific research. However because of Henrietta’s race and economic standpoint, Henrietta Lacks and the rest of the Lacks family was exploited by doctors. The exploitation of the family allowed the doctors and researchers to benefit scientifically and monetarily.
LaPetria Adudu Mrs. Meahl AP English Language September 8, 2015 The Consequences of Different Perspectives In The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks The effect the discovery and creation of the HeLa cells made on the science community and Henrietta’s family had a domino effect. Both had different opinions and beliefs on the matter; this
When the cells finally began growing in Gey’s lab it was seen as a huge advance in the world of science, seeing as no one had succeeded beforehand, this was a great accomplishment on his part. However, Henrietta was never told of this or how important her cells had become, she simply continued living without knowing that the cancerous cells inside her were continuing to grow despite receiving “treatment” from the doctors. Her only treatment was a small patch of radiation sewn directly into her cervix on the area where the tumor had appeared, after some tests showed that the tumor had disappeared she continued with her normal life of farming, raising her children, and enjoying life. Henrietta never complained about any side effects of the radiation, however, it eventually would make her infertile and cause her skin on her torso to turn black.
First, Dr. Gey decided to take Henrietta Lacks’ (who had cervical cancer) cells without informing her and then sent them to be researched. Henrietta’s cells then became one of the biggest discoveries and
Background of Story The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks is a true story of a poor, Southern African-American tobacco farmer who died in 1951 at the very young age of 31 years old from cervical cancer. Little did she know that cells harvested from her tumor, which were obtained without her consent have lived on and on and became one of the most important tools in medicine today. Despite Henrietta’s story being full of legal and ethical issues, the story was one filled with success and anguish. Success for science as her cells served as advancement in medical research and development; yet was sorrowful for Henrietta and her family. This story occurred during a time of segregation in the United States, when Henrietta Lacks believed she
Finding discoveries that would greatly benefit medicine have always been difficult to achieve in cancer research. Though, everything changed on February 1, 1951, when Howard Jones discovered that Henrietta Lacks had cervical cancer. When George Gey heard of this, he took samples from Henrietta Lacks’ tumor, and found something that changed for future medical research. George Gey had noticed that Henrietta Lacks’ cancer cells was the first human cell line that could be consistently passaged. The cells were later called HeLa cells, which were named after Henrietta Lacks. Even though scientists greatly benefited from it, Henrietta Lacks, nor her family profited from it.
There were many researchers involved in learning about cells and their basic function. In order to do this, tissue samples were taken from patients to examine. However, in the past there weren’t many laws regarding informed consent and patient confidentiality. In my opinion, the Gold/Moore case is different than what Dr. Gey did with Henrietta Lack’s cells. Gold and Gey had very different incentives. Dr. Gey was a tissue researcher whose aim was to create an immortal line of human cells to be used for medical research. Gey had spent 30 years prior to the discovery of Henrietta’s immortal cells, working to grow malignant cells outside of the human body. His goal was to find the cause and cure of cancer.
2. Part 1: In Part 1 of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot Dr. George Gey had to make many decisions based on his values and ethics. When his lab received samples of Henrietta Lacks cancerous cervix
From the start, the people involved with Lacks only have their personal goals in mind. When Gey, along with other doctors, take Lack’s cells without permission, it is not out of malice, but out of an utter lack of thoughtfulness. He is so preoccupied with obtaining cells, he does not think twice about who they are coming from. In fact, Lacks is not the only one whose cells have been taken in that manner; Gey’s lab is full of cell samples. This blasé attitude permeates the whole field. This is why, “There is no record that George Gey ever visited Henrietta…or said anything about her cells” (Skloot 66). Even if he does interact with her, he does not bother to take note of it. All he is concerned with are the cells, and possibly the name behind it. The journalist Michael Gold is
The Use of Lacks’ Cells Was Ethical The truth is the doctors that took Henrietta’s cells were doing it for a good cause. They didn’t do it to ruin her and her family’s life, they did it to help people and save lives. There were no laws prohibiting the taking of one’s cells, in fact in a later Supreme Court of California ruling, it was actually defended. When tissues are removed from your body, with or without consent, any claim to ownership
Doctor George Gey, the Doctor who presided in the surgical efforts preforming the medical treatments during Henrietta’s medical observation appointments. Henrietta Lacks family should be compensated for their family members major driving initiatives derived from researching how to cure cancer because of Henrietta cell cultures. Did Henrietta realize the potency in her body to be a medical breakthrough healing social cancer endeavors more than successfully aiding Henrietta’s survival. Better than most, yet infected as she was, health activist Mary Lasker pushed an advantage for American growth to find a cure to cancer once and for all, in 1971 Mary Lasker
For example, the text shows how Henrietta and her family could have avoided this situation. “Today it’s possible for scientists to immortalize cells by exposing them to certain viruses or chemicals, but very few cells have become immortal on their own as Henrietta’s did” (Skloot pg.213). This quote shows that overtime scientists were able to make advancements in technology and their discoveries made cells immortal. Eventually, this became possible and proves that what happened to Henrietta and her family was redundant.
After George Gey learned of Henrietta's death, he wanted to get cell samples from her organs.
I hope George Grey burn in hell. If he wasn’t dead already, I’d take a black pitchfork and stick it up his ass’”(Skloot 424). Needless to say, Zakariyya was not pleased with the Hopkins hospital as they took his mother’s cells and profited off them. But to a scientist, this discovery was a magnificent success to the medical community. As Biologist J.Douglas put it in his journal “Nature”, “It is twenty-one years since George Gey established the famous HeLa cells in culture. It has been estimated that the weight of these cells in the world today exceeds that of the American negro from whose cervical tumour they originated. That lady has achieved true immortality, both in the test-tube and in the hearts and minds of scientist the world over, since the value of HeLa cells in research, diagnosis, etc., is inestimable. (Skloot 302)”. Douglas went on to say how it was a misfortune that the public was unaware of the name of the woman whose cells they originally belonged to. As you can see, from a scientist perspective, the story of Henrietta Lacks and HeLa was a huge success, while from the family of Henrietta it was a hinderance on
After Gey succeeded to find the immortal human cells, he started to sell HeLa cells without Henrietta’s consent. “Gey sells HeLa cells to researchers in Texas, India, New York, and many others place” (Skloot 84). He did not give any credit to Henrietta. He only told Henrietta that her cells will help many people in the future. “In fact, in the future HeLa cells were contribute into polio vaccine; develop drugs for treating herpes, leukemia, influenza, hemophilia, and Parkinson’s disease” (Skloot 22). Hela cells were also used in cancer treatment and were the first cells that were shot into space.