Henrietta Lacks Reflection

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I chose to write my Cultural Reflection assignment on The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. This book is about a young African-American woman, Henrietta Lacks, whose cancer cells played an important role in medical research since they were collected in 1951. When Henrietta was in her early thirties, she felt a lump on her cervix and decided to go to the doctor when she started experiencing unexplained vaginal bleeding. This doctor tested the lump for syphilis, but the test came back negative. He instructed her to go to the gynecology clinic at John Hopkins, which was the only hospital within miles of her home that treated “colored” patients. If a “colored” person showed up at a white only hospital, they would be sent away even if they were…show more content…
The doctor then secured everything gauze and placed a catheter in so the treatments would not be interrupted. The tissue specimens were given to Doctor George Gey, who had been trying to grow malignant cells for research purposes. He wanted to discover what causes cancer and how it can be cured, but had been unsuccessful for several decades. During this time, Gey and his wife had experimented with finding the right culture medium that allowed cells to grow. Once Henrietta’s cells were in the lab, Gey’s assistant cut the specimens into smaller pieces, placed them into test tubes, labeled them HeLa (the first two letters of her first and last name), and carried them to the incubator room. After two days, Gey’s assistant checked on the cells and saw that they had actually doubled in size. No one was ready to celebrate just yet because of their past experiences, but the cells kept multiplying every twenty-four hours. These particular cells have helped engineer some of the most important advances in the medical field, such as chemotherapy, many vaccines, and also in vitro fertilization. Throughout the book, I constantly asked myself several questions. Why Henrietta Lacks cells? What made them so different from all the other cells that the scientists worked with? Why did they not tell her or her family about using her cells for research? This is the part that kept me intrigued throughout the whole
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