The Immortal Life Of Henrietta Lacks

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In 2010, Rebecca Skloot published her book The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, a result of her discovery and findings devoted to Henrietta’s life story along with her family members, and revived the real person behind tremendous scientific accomplishments sprung of immortal HeLa cells’ exploitation. The research involving HeLa cells has changed the landscape of medical study, leading to scientific and medical breakthroughs that continues today. HeLa cells were vital for developing the polio vaccine; uncovered secrets of breast cancer and leukemia; helped lead to important advances in vitro fertilization, cloning, genetic hybrids, gene mapping in virology, scientific standards, live cell transport, for profit distribution of cells, space…show more content…
There is a chance that any person could be involved without a notice in a situation similar to Henrietta’s one or unexpectedly might find oneself as a victim in some kind of “advanced” medical experiment. Like those people who were injected with sexually transmitted diseases without their knowledge by the U.S. government in the Tuskegee syphilis studies. The concept of informed consent that we have today did not exist in the 1950s when Henrietta’s cells were obtained. Patients were regularly used in research without their knowledge. Nevertheless, some doctors had unethical standards. Dr. Chester Southam, a credible researcher of cancer, developed a theory that “the cancer was caused by either a virus or an immune system deficiency” (Skloot 128) and the bodies of patients’ who had suffered with cancer in the past would reject the HeLa cells. He tested the patients and “he said nothing about injecting them with someone else’s malignant cells” (Skloot 128). Southam believed that revealing details to patients would create a “phobia and ignorance” (Skloot 130) in their mind. He injected “more than six hundred people for his research, about half of them cancer patients” (Skloot 129), telling them “he was testing their immune systems” (Skloot 128). Southam expanded with his experiments on testing

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