Hela Cells

713 Words3 Pages
In “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks”, Rebecca Skloot analyzes ethics in past scientific/medical studies, specifically Henrietta Lack’s case, to alter the way the reader sees how modern medicine came to be. Doctors took the cancer cells of a young, poor, African-American woman diagnosed with cervix cancer in 1951, without her consent, and used them to grow an immortal cell line that has made millions of dollars and is still used today. Skloot shows the effect Henrietta’s infamous cells (HeLa cells) have had on the scientific community presently and show the negative effect it has had on her family. The author wants the audience be aware of the how an essential cell line used in research was created with great ethical injustice. Skloot wants audiences to learn a little from Henrietta’s story and at least be aware of the ethical scientific issues today to form their own opinion. However, Skloot doesn’t push the audience one way or…show more content…
She does this to show why the scientists involved acted the way they did for HeLa cells and why the Lack’s family was constantly being taken advantage of, even after Henrietta’s death. For example, George Gey, the scientist who immortalized HeLa cells, described himself as “ the world’s most famous vulture, feeding on human specimens almost constantly” (30). This small snippet of information already establishes Gey as a man who will do whatever it takes to further science. The audience will be better able to understand why scientists like Gey would take advantage of patients like Henrietta, and use her cells without her knowledge or consent. By also, characterizing the Lack’s family Skloot highlights why people like Henrietta’s family were easy targets for scientific experiments. For instance, the Lack’s family made up an entire town of impoverished former slaves and Henrietta’s husband, Day, was her
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