Henrietta Lacks And Ethics

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The origination of HeLa cells, used in biomedical research for a potential cure for cancer, had made many ground breaking discoveries in science; all thanks to one woman, Mrs. Henrietta Lacks. The history of Mrs. Lacks’s contribution to these studies raised many ethical issues concerning healthcare practice. In the short film, The Way of All Flesh, we learn how these cells were revealed by direct violation of ethical principles.
During the 1950s, matters regarding informed consent practices were in their beginning stages of implementation. The first direct violation of ethical principles with Lacks was the breach of autonomy. During her treatment at Johns Hopkins hospital in 1951, she had been informed her diagnosis was indeed cancer. Her
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In order to research the theory of cancerous cells being infectious, two scientists traveled to an Ohio maximum security prison to conduct several experiments on prisoners. This testing involved taking the HeLa cells, and injecting the prisoners, to observe possible reactions. Despite the fact that the prisoners were informed of the risks, this experimentation was conducted intentionally to cause disease in another human being. This theory, however, was disproved as an infectious cancer because none of the test subjects developed full blown cancer.
The final violation of ethical principles, in the story of Henrietta Lacks, was the violation of justice. Without the contribution of Henrietta’s cells, many discoveries and vaccines, such as the vaccine that conquered Polio, would not have made their pivotal breakthroughs in biomedical research. Her direct and unknowingly, supportive contribution helped save many people’s lives all over the world. Unfortunately, her named did not receive the recognition it deserved, and her family never received any compensation for profits made from direct use of her

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