I read The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot for the first time in high school for a summer reading assignment I was rushing to complete the last week of summer break. Four years later, I chose to read this book again because I now have an interest in biochemistry, in particular a goal to study antiviral agents in the hopes of a Hepatitis B cure. This time around, I understood the significance this book had because it revealed details of the racist treatment of African Americas that are intertwined with the hidden truths and hypocritical acts of the medical system that unfortunately still exist. On October 4, 1951 Henrietta Lacks died from cervical cancer at the young age of 31.
This essay uses the book“ The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” by Rebecca Skloot to investigate the requirements of informed consent ,by informing the patients through every steps Henrietta’s story is an example on informed consent. On one hand theorists such as, Dale Keigner argue that informed consent should be notified by the doctor to the patient and the patient should be knowledge on the proceeding that the doctors will maintain. On the other hand , Lewis Soloman contends that the doctors should be able to take any specimens from the patient after operating without consent for scientific reasons and research. . He also asserted that doctors should be able to deduct any specimen that will be able to help in the science research. Others maintain
In the book The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, education plays a substantial role in what occurs throughout the book. Many major events are related to people not understanding what is happening to them. Skloot brings up the topic ’Lack of Education,’ frequently and this affected Henrietta's treatments, and how her family viewed the situation, and how the black community viewed scientist overall. In many occasions lack of education causes a major event to happen, “she didn't write much, and she hadn't studied science in school,”(pg 16) with little education Henrietta had no idea what was wrong with her. Without Henrietta or her family knowing symptoms of certain diseases Henrietta does not go to the hospital till the end.
Informed consent tends to spark major ethical controversy in the medical world. Many people believe that ALL humans deserve the right to know what research or tests are being done within their body, as well as the understanding of all the risks and costs that are associated with treatment. Other people believe that the right of informed consent should vary from person to person. This disputable topic is also explored throughout the novel, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot. As the story progresses, the reader soon discovers that without the lack of informed consent given to Henrietta Lacks, the discovery of the famous immortal HeLa cells would have never occurred.
An essential part of modern society relied on trust, especially the trust of doctors and scientists. People had the right to make an informed decision about their bodies and body parts. People had a right to their body parts, both attached and cell samples collected by doctors. The actions that the medical professions made will continue to affect future generations in both positive and negative ways. In the contemporary biographical novel, the Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, Rebecca Skloot used logical opinions to argue about the importance of consent to reveal the lack of morality from those in the medical field which continues to persist today.
In this case study we are presented with the case of Henrietta Lack. Henrietta died of cervical cancer in 1951. After her death the tumor that was remove from her cervix had an unusual finding. The cells fro the tumor continue to replicate despite them being outside the body. These cells that are now known, as Hela cells have become the first immortal human cell line that are able to replicate under laboratory conditions.
Pathos is used as an appeal to emotion, often to gain an audience’s investment for a specific purpose. Animal shelter advertisements, car commercials, and even magazines use this method to attract an audience and pull them in by their heartstrings. Rebecca Skloot’s contemporary biography The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks is no different, utilizing this method to maintain the audience’s attention and emotional investment in the story.
Another moral and ethical issue brought on by the doctors of John Hopkins was when they retrieved tissue from Henrietta’s cervix without consent. Tissue that was later cultured and became the miraculous HeLa cells. Neither Henrietta nor her family gave their written or verbal consent for her cells to be used in Dr. Gey’s research. Later in the book, Skloot introduces her readers to a similar case of a man named John Moore. Moore also had tissue stolen from his body without consent that was later developed into a successful cell line.
Doctors, one side of the coin they are viewed as the ones that can cure the sick with their knowledge, the ones that are supposed to help them get better. The other side they are feared and are avoided at all cost by some. Doctors have this bad reputation about them because sometimes they don’t even tell their patients what is wrong with them. Or the patients themselves don’t even question the doctors because they went to school and have a prestigious piece of paper. In “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” by Rebecca Skloot, she describes benevolent deception, which doctors had no trouble of doing in the mid-century, as the doctors keeping their patients in the dark.
fend for themselves, despite being relatives to one of the most important individuals’ in cell-line history. Now, knowing the full potential of these cells, the question arises of why the Lacks family was not told of the cells by the scientists themselves. Many possibilities arise, but the main one is that the existence of the cells would have gone against the wishes of the family. The sample of the tumor was taken before Henrietta died, but permission to perform tests was only requested after her death. Additionally, the permission was initially not granted by Day, her husband, to perform any additional test on her body.
Henrietta Lacks Honor Essay “The reason Henrietta's cells were so precious was because they allowed scientists to perform experiments that would have been impossible with a living human. They cut HeLa cells apart and exposed them to endless toxins, radiation, and infection. They bombarded them with drugs, hoping to find one that would kill malignant cells without destroying normal ones.” (58)”Throughout the book “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” there are many examples of how the HeLa cell of Henrietta Lacks provided cellular information and examples that helped mold many cellular discoveries and experiments.
“Benevolent deception” is a typical practice where doctors purposely mask important information from their patients for the patients’ own benefit. Doctors will restrain information because “they believed it was best not to confuse or upset patients with frightening terms they might not understand, like cancer” (Skloot, 2010, 2011, p. 63). In The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, doctors withheld crucial information from Henrietta, and overall left her in the unknown. Lacks had to frequently make trips to John Hopkins because of her constant discomforts and pains, and she had no clue what was causing it.
Is it right for one's life to be manipulated for the use of scientific research or is it just a evasion on the person's privacy. Henrietta Lacks was a African American with cells that intrigued many people, she was diagnosed with cancer leaving her to be cared for at her local hospital, where she would later die due to the extremity of the illness. While at the hospital she was unaware that the doctors there were experimenting on her taking cell samples from her body, to help find a resolution to multiple diseases. The people who examined Henrietta manipulated her and the rest of her family to gain information on her cellular structure to be ahead of others looking to achieve the same objective. Henrietta Lacks cells should have never been evaluated because it's an evasion of her freedom, a danger to her personal health, and cause conflicts.
I first heard about Henrietta Lacks story after noticing and advertisement of Oprah Winfrey directing or possibly playing the role of Ms. Lacks. Reading the caption underneath the picture posted I decided to inquire more about the Henrietta Lacks. Ms. Lacks was an African American woman who found out in 1951 after a biopsy, Lacks was diagnosed with cervical cancer. The manifestation of the tumor was unlike anything that had ever been seen by the examining gynecologist Dr. Howard Jones. Henrietta Lacks was treated at the segregated John Hopkins Hospital with radium tube inserted and sewn into her body, a standard treatment at that time sewn in her body.