Henrietta Lacks Essay

644 WordsDec 8, 20133 Pages
Henrietta Lacks was born on August 1, 1920, in Roanoke, Virginia. Lacks died of cervical cancer on October 4, 1951, at age 31. Cells taken from her body without her knowledge were used to form the HeLa cell line. Lacks's case has sparked legal and ethical debates over the rights of an individual to his or her genetic material and tissue. Life and Death Henrietta Lacks was born as Loretta Pleasant. At some point in time, she changed her name to Henrietta. After her mother died in 1924, she was sent to live with her grandfather in a log cabin, that had been the slave head quarters of a white ancestor’s plantation. Henrietta shared a room with her first cousin. When she was 14, they had a boy named Lawrence and a girl name Elsie. In 1941,…show more content…
The case gained new visibility in 1998, when the BBC screened an award-winning documentary on Lacks and HeLa. The Lacks family has been honored at the Smithsonian Institution and the National Foundation for Cancer Research. The HeLa case has raised questions about the legality of using genetic materials without permission. Neither Lacks nor her family granted permission to harvest her cells, which were then cloned and sold. The Lacks family has had limited success in gaining control of the HeLa strain. In August 2013, an agreement between the family and the National Institutes of Health granted the family acknowledgement in scientific papers and some oversight of the Lacks genome. Henrietta Lacks Foundation The Henrietta Lacks Foundation is a non-profit organization founded by Rebecca Skloot, author of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, who is donating a portion of her book’s proceeds to the Foundation. Henrietta was a poor black farmer whose cancer cells had damaging consequences for her family who today can’t afford access to the health care advances their mother’s cells helped make possible. The Foundation strives to provide financial assistance to needy individuals who have made important contributions to scientific research without personally benefiting from those contributions, particularly those used in research without their knowledge or consent. The Foundation gives those who

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