Is Henrietta Lacks A Poor, Black Woman Who Died Of Cervical Cancer?

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Henrietta Lacks was a poor, black woman who died of cervical cancer in the fifties. Her cells were taken from her during surgery, without her knowledge. However, back then there were no laws about informed consent and the mindset was entirely different. Researchers knew little about cells and how they function. Her immortal cells allowed researchers to have an ample amount of resources to be able to study cells and later on develop vaccines and treatments for many diseases. Even though her cells were cancerous, they still shared many basic characteristics of a normal cell, which allowed researchers to learn a lot about a cell’s basic function. Her story explains how medical research has developed and how health care has progressed over the past sixty years. 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.

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