The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

2210 WordsJan 31, 20189 Pages
The non-fiction book The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, written by Rebecca Skloot, details the happenings and life of Henrietta Lacks, an African American woman and tobacco farmer who became a medical miracle in the 1950’s. The book is written in an attempt to chronicle both the experiences and tribulations of Henrietta Lacks and her family, as well as the events that led to, and resulted from, research done on Henrietta Lacks’ cells. Henrietta was a very average African American woman in this period; she had only a seventh-grade level education, and followed traditional racial and gender roles by spending her time has a mother and caretaker, as well as working on farms throughout her life until the involvement of the US in World War II brought her and her husband, “Day” Lacks, comparatively better work opportunities in industrial steel mills. However, after her death in 1951 Henrietta became much more than average to doctors at John Hopkins when the discovered that cells extracted from her cancerous tissue continued to live and grow much longer than any other tissue samples. Further investigation and isolation of these thriving cells led to the creation of the first ever immortal human cell line in medical history. The incredible progress in medicine made possible by Henrietta Lack’s tissue cells were not without downfalls, though. The treatments and experiences received by Henrietta and the effects it had on her and her family demonstrate both racial and gender
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