Henrietta Lacks Research Papers

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Born in Roanoke, Virginia on August 1, 1920, Henrietta Lacks would one day unknowingly be the reason for one of the most important cell lines in medical research. Henrietta Lacks became the source of HeLa cells after her death on October 4, 1951 (aged 31), cells which were the first immortalized cell line in history; immortalized cells are cells that will reproduce indefinitely under specific conditions. While Henrietta’s cells were and continue to be used to treat many illnesses, there was never any consent given from Henrietta herself, or any of her family. To this day, no portion of the billions of dollars made from HeLa cells ever found it’s way to Henrietta’s family. The medical ethics in the 1950’s are very questionable in comparison …show more content…

After the death of her mother, Henrietta’s father moved her family to Virginia where each child was distributed among relatives. Henrietta ended up living in a cabin with her Grandfather sharing a room with her cousin David Lacks. Henrietta worked as a tobacco farmer at a young age, when Henrietta was fourteen she gave birth to her first child, Lawerence Lacks. Four years later, Henriette gave birth to her first daughter, Elise Lacks.By 1950, Henrietta and David Lacks had another three children. The beginning of 1951 is when Henrietta Lacks visited Johns Hopkins, the only hospital in the area that treated black patients because she felt a pain in her womb. She was told she was pregnant. However, after giving birth to her fifth child, Henrietta had a severe hemorrhage. After many tests were run, a hard mass was found on Henrietta’s cervix. During treatment, two samples were taken from Henrietta’s cervix, one healthy and one cancerous, without her knowledge. For the final months of her life, Henrietta remained in the hospital until her death on October 4, 1951. Cancer had spread throughout her entire …show more content…

All this of this testing on HeLa cells has led to thousands of new pieces of knowledge advancing scientific technology. The amount of HeLa cells that have been produced is so substantial that researchers estimate that if the cells were to be laid down all end-to-end, the cells would wrap around the planet at least three times. HeLa cells made it possible to expose the cells to conditions that wouldn't have been ethical if they were inside a human body. However it is quite strange that exposing cells inside a human body would be unethical, still there was no question of ethics when cells were taken and used from a dead body without the permission of the individual. At the time, the general standpoint of medical science is that cells are taken from an individual and used for research benefit the common good, therefore it is okay to use them. However, the case of Henrietta Lacks would state otherwise, as Henrietta’s cells were used to develops medical treatments, none of those treatments available to those who cannot afford medical

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