The Immortal Life Of Henrietta Lacks Essay

1802 Words Oct 25th, 2016 8 Pages
Rebecca Skloot’s, “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks,” brings forth the story of a black woman, Henrietta Lacks. Henrietta was one of ten kids raised on a tobacco farm by her grandfather, Tommy Lacks, and married her half-brother David ‘Day’ Lacks. Before Henrietta died in 1951, doctors diagnosed her with cervical cancer and a malignant tumor at Johns Hopkins Hospital, the only hospital in the Baltimore area that accepted black patients. This story focused on how doctors at Johns Hopkins, particularly George Gey, the head of tissue-culture research at Johns Hopkins, took advantage of Henrietta. Before her death, doctors biopsied a portion of her cervical tumor and harvested the cancerous tissues. When researcher cultured these tissues, they discovered the cells had hearty, unusual qualities that allowed them to grow almost anywhere, with relative ease that was unheard of in the early stages of the field of cell production. Once researchers realized these qualities, people took steps to ensure her cells, called HeLa by researchers, could be purchased by anyone around the world. After her death, these cells were the backbone of many scientific discoveries around the world such as the vaccine for polio and the realization of HPV. However, Skloot questions whether or not these doctors ever had the right to take these cells from Henrietta without her permission, let alone sell them to researchers around the world. Rebecca Skloot analyzed the story of Henrietta’s HeLa cells,…
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