Henrietta Lacks Informed Consent

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In the late 1940s, scientific research began taking off as innovative technologies and diseases were being created and discovered. One important field of study during the time was cancer. Like many types of new research, there were a few problems getting the ball on the roll. One problem scientists faced was obtaining cancerous cells that would stay long enough to study. One scientist struggled with this until a particularly unique strand of cells came along. Dr. George Gey, a doctor and cancer researcher at Johns Hopkins, was presented with cancerous cells that not only survived outside its host but also managed to continue to grow. These cells almost doubled in numbers after being outside of the body for a little under 24 hours. Not only …show more content…

According to Merriam-Webster dictionary, consent is defined as “a formal agreement that a patient signs to give permission for a medical procedure (such as surgery) after having been told about the risks, benefits, etc,” (Webster). During the time that Lacks was hospitalized, informed consent was not really practiced in the medical field. “In 1951, the cells of Henrietta Lacks were taken without her consent,” (Stumps 127). Because she was not informed of the usage of her cells, this practice was extremely unethical. Doctors were aware of this clause but because it was not used widespread, most tended to overlook it and use different organs and cells in the name of research. “In 1981, the U.S Department of Health and Human Services enacted regulations for the protection of human subjects, known as the “Common Rule,” which establish the standard governing research that is supported by federal government,” (Rao). Because of cases such as this, the government now has in place several federal laws protecting the rights of patients. If it were not for these laws, doctors would have more control over what is done with our bodies than

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