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Every so often, a breakthrough scientific discovery is uncovered that completely changes the way we view the world. Typically, at the slightest hint of revolutionary data, the media immediately broadcasts the forthcoming of a brand new wave of science that keeps everyone on the edge of their seat. There is one story, however, that did indeed change the world of science but took decades to surface. This intricate story is described in the award-winning book, “The Immortal of Henrietta Lacks”. Published just three years ago, Rebecca Skloot tells the story of Henrietta Lacks, an African-American woman, who became the source of the first line of immortal cells. Henrietta was born Loretta Pleasant in Roanoke, Virginia in 1920. Henrietta…show more content…
Perhaps they were afraid that Henrietta would not agree to it if she were asked for permission, especially given the history of medical treatment/research regarding African-Americans. After all, it was during this same time that the Tuskegee Syphilis Study was conducted. In the Tuskegee experiment, the US Public Health service recruited 399 poor, illiterate African American men with syphilis for an experiment that promised free health care but ended with most participants passing without any treatment. (“Tuskegee Study”) Many instances like this in the 20th century decreased the trust between black patients and white doctors. Henrietta Lacks is a prime example of informed consent being intentionally pushed the side to attain information for research. It was immoral to retrieve Henrietta’s samples without informed consent. Another truly controversial concept of the book is the commercialization of HeLa cells and compensation for the Lacks family. The distribution of HeLa cells began in the early part of Dr. Gey’s research and their demand grew as more scientists discovered the potentiality of the immortal cell line. The profits from the sale of the HeLa line were colossal. While the medicine industry reaped millions of dollars in profits, one group of people in particular has been denied the benefits from HeLa cells - the Lacks themselves. Until the 1970's the Lacks family had no knowledge of the HeLa cell line. The cells from

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