“The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” was written by Rebecca Skloot, to tell the story of Mrs. Lacks and her HeLa cells. Henrietta Lacks died of cervical cancer in 1951. A sample of her cancer cells was removed for research prior to her death. Her cells became the first to survive and multiply indefinitely in a lab. These cells have made many advances in medicine. However, the samples were taken without her permission or without her knowledge. The book covers five key ideas which include: racism, poverty, family, morals, and ethics.
Key Idea 1: Racism The first key idea is racism. Racism was very visual in the amounts and quality of healthcare that black people received. Henrietta’s cousin, Cootie, contracted polio as a child. Hospitals did not want to treat the black. Since he was light skinned, a local doctor snuck him into a hospital for …show more content…
Skloot states, “It was not standard practice for a doctor to hand a patient’s medical records over to a reporter” (Skloot 21). However, several doctors and reporters lacked morals. Major things have changed in the form of morals since Henrietta Lack. HIPPA no longer allows information to be shared. Being unmoral in practice leads to being unethical. They both go hand in hand.
Key Idea 5: Ethics
Finally, being unmoral leads to the lack of ethics. Henrietta’s cancer cells were taken without her knowledge or permission. Doctors could take tissue samples from patients without their permission. This was a common practice in order to have research. According to the inside flap of the book, “Henrietta’s family did not learn of her “immortality” until more than 20 years
after her death”, (Skloot). Doctors could also use patients as “guinea pigs”. Cancer patients were injected with HeLa cancer cells to see if the body would contract the cancer. Most of these patients did not know what was happening.