“the Immortal Life Of Henrietta Lacks”

Read Complete Research Material

“The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks”


Rebecca Skloot has written the book “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” in which she narrated the story of Henrietta Lacks (Skloot, 2010). This book is a combination of two diverse stories: a story telling the fate of the lack family and another one given that readable the past of cell development as well as medical research of ethical issues involved in cells and tissues taken throughout diagnostic procedures from patients. The author does an outstanding job of branding these two respective stories and provide the reader a obvious understanding about ethical issues involved in this area. Every chapter help the reader about clear understanding of historical context of the topics covered in it.


Personal Opinion

While reading this book, a few issues came to my mind. The first and foremost thing is definitely informed consent and the issues that surrounding the medical work with the cells (Roston, 2010). The second significant issues that I through was a struggle of Henrietta as well as her family continuing struggle while she was ill and after her death. I was also intrigued about the story behind white women making information about HeLa so well. I personally believed that if Henrietta and her family truly understood and informed about this book then there would be no story to tell.

Story Analysis

The story reveals the legacy of life and death of the immortal cells and the experiences of Henrietta's family. These cells were the reason of death of Henrietta Lacks, who was a black tobacco farmer and mother of five; she has become moral and ethical controversy since her cells have been used after her death, keeping her family uninformed (Skloot, 2013). The lady died in 1951, but her cells name remains with the code HeLa lived on. Some of the most important activities in which the cells taken from Henrietta's body include development of cancer medications and other vaccines, cloning, gene mapping and vitro fertilization. In the story, the author has used the personal experiences, interviews and other primary sources to present the details of childhood, adulthood, illness and tragic death of Henrietta Lacks. The illness and death of Henrietta Lacks provided the scientists and medical practitioners with an opportunity to get breakthroughs in the research, particularly for developing the vaccines against Cancer (Roston, 2010). In addition to the medical breakthrough, Henrietta's story has also raised new questions regarding the patient's rights and privacy.

Henrietta Lacks was diagnosed cervical cancer and was treated at John's hospital. The author provided a good description of the medical conceptualization and treatment of cervical cancer at the hospital. The doctors, suffering from color and gender bias did not really care for saving the patient, but they were more interested in taking benefit out of her. Dr. TeLinde who was the lead researcher in the area of cervical cancer took cells from Henrietta's body and started to build up the first ever line of immortal cells, without taking any consent from Henrietta. Thus, even after decades of ...