The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks Introduction The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks is written by Rebecca Skloot, who is an award winning science writer. The story is of a young black women, Henrietta Lacks, who was diagnosed with cancer in 1951, at the John Hopkins Hospital. Cells were taken from her body during her examinations, without her knowledge.
They were used to develop the first immortal cell line. Her cells became very important for the development of vaccines. Her family, however, has not received any benefit and still cannot even afford health insurance.
They do not even know that the cells belong to Henrietta. This has raised many ethical questions on the research that has been done using Henrietta’s cells. Discussion Henrietta’s life had not been an easy one. Long before she got ill with cancer; her father abandoned her in childhood. She was married at a very early age. At the age of 14; she was a mother. She then moved to the Turner Station with her husband, who was not so faithful to her. At Turner Station, she and her family faced a life of segregation and poverty. Despite all the difficulties that she faced in her life, she still remained an enthusiastic person.
She had a spirit that was not able to break. She was described by her friends as a person having a cheerful disposition. She was an also a person who was quick to laugh. She would also go out dancing with her cousin Sadie. The most important and strong side of Henrietta was her motherhood. Her cousin, Sadie also suspected that she delayed seeking medical attention, because she was afraid that it might affect her fertility and prevent her from having more children. She was extremely heart broken when she realized that the surgery has made her infertile.
She was angry and sad at the fact that the doctors did not tell her beforehand that what the surgery would do to her. When her condition worsened, the doctors told her husband not to bring her children to visit her. This made her even more heart broken and devastated. She and her family, especially her children, led a very difficult life. Even after her death, her family and her children were not told about the cells of Henrietta being used in research. They were not given nay benefit, whatsoever, of the research on her cells and the huge mounts of money generated from it. The Lacks family is so poor even now that they cannot afford even life insurance. Henrietta’s daughter, Deborah, did not know anything at all about the importance and the use of her mother’s cells. She was devastated to learn about the cells of her mother. She was filled with many questions that nobody was able to answer. She was curious to know that if her mother’s cells were so important and have helped medical science so much. Why were her children not even able to afford health insurance for themselves?
Henrietta was a very sociable person. She would have allowed the John Hopkins institute to carry out research on her cells. She was a person who was very close to her family. She would have wanted the John Hopkins Institute to take care of her family and children if they used her cells. She would never have wanted her family to be treated the way they were treated back then and even now. Conclusion Henrietta was a very strong woman. Her contribution to medical science has been exceptional. However, her family should also have been given benefits.