29 April 2013
It’s Better to Give Than to Receive
Henrietta Lack’s cells were, for the most part, vital to the progression of modern medicine. Her cells were also used in order to develop a vaccine to the polio disease, cloning, gene mapping, in virto fertilization, and many other dieseases. This woman’s cells were bought by the billions, but she didn’t see a dime. Henrietta Lacks, and her struggle with ethics, race, and equality is told in the book, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. The inspiring book has raised many questions in regard to the life of Henrietta Lacks, but, all in all, is it truly better to give than to receive?
In the 1950’s, things were extremely different than the society we know today. The 1950’s was a time when the medical field was taking a giant leaps in advancement. Advancements such as the polio vaccine, the pacemaker, the first open heart surgery, and many others had been conjured during the time of Henrietta Lacks. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks gives us insight on Henrietta Lacks’s life, and how her cells proved to be a catalyst in the advancement of modern medicine. Henrietta suffered from cervical cancer, and had to go through treatments to help her stay comfortable, and hopefully increase the chances of her survival. During these treatments at the John Hopkins hospital in 1952, her tissue was taken without her consent in order to be grown and multiplied in the lab (Skloot 2010). In the 1950’s, segregation was still taking a toll on the American population. Which begs the question; was Henrietta Lacks a victim of the Jim Crow’s Laws? "This was the era of Jim Crow— when black people showed up at white only hospitals, the staff was likely to send them away, even if it meant they might die in the parking lot (Skloot 15). In a nutshell, the Jim Crow’s Laws prohibited African Americans to most if not all luxuries or facilities. Knowing about all of the...
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