Henrietta Lacks 's Case, Problems That Were Deeper Than Money

2014 Words9 Pages
In the year 1951, an African American woman known as Henrietta Lacks died of cervical cancer. Unknowingly, her cancerous cells would later be discovered as the first immortal human cells. These cells were then referred to as HeLa by Doctor Gey, who was a tissue expert at the Hopkins Hospital. Her cells were discovered as the first human cells without her ever knowing they had been removed from her body and cultured. Rebecca Skloot, a journalist, and author of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks embarked on a journey to discover more about Henrietta Lacks’s struggle, pain, and efforts to get treatment. Henrietta nor her family members were ever told of the cultured cells, but would later find out and be very upset. They would be shocked…show more content…
The power that a person holds to owning one 's own body seems like common sense then and now. There were no laws specifically regarding one’s body, but soon there were ethical scenarios by famous philosophers would. For example, the case of the spare parts surgeon or involuntary organ donor by Phillipa Foot. Phillipa Foot introduced this in the 1960s, about a decade after Lacks’s death. Here is a basic summary of the scenario and the connection it has with the Henrietta Lacks’s case. The scenario starts with five patients needing organ transplants. One day, a healthy individual walks into the doctor’s office for a routine check-up, and during his check-up, everything comes out just fine. The doctor notices that he would be a perfect match for the five individuals needing organs. The doctor has the decision of harvesting the organs to save the lives of five people at the expanse of one. Should the doctor do this? No, would be the correct answer for the following reasons; one, the person may not be an organ donor and two, the doctor would be knowingly killing someone which that in itself is an unethical thing to do. This scenario can partially relate to Lacks’s case because the doctors took her cells without her consent, but by doing so, they helped save many other people’s lives. As Guido Calabresi from Yale Law School states in his article, “Do We Own Our Bodies?”:

Similarly, taking body parts from groups that traditionally have

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