“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 treatment. Henrietta was also scared of healthcare. When she became sick, she went to Hopkins for treatment. Because of lack of education, she did not understand the terminology. She was afraid to ask because of her color. “Many black patients were just glad to be getting treatment, since discrimination in hospitals was widespread,” (Skloot, 63-64).
Key Idea 2: Poverty
Poverty is also key idea. Henrietta and her family...
Even though she was poor and uneducated, she should’ve been informed of everything. People just want to know what is going on. This type of medical behavior causes major distrust. Racism, poverty, family, morals, and ethics play a huge part in the understanding of the book and Henrietta Lack. Her family did not even know about her “immortal” cells until more than 20 years after her death. Even though she was uninformed and demoralized, her “immortality” made a huge impact on modern medicine. The HeLa cells have never stopped growing. They continue to live and grow in laboratories all over the...
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