Oh this book…this amazing book. Not only is it completely TRUE, but I think I ran through every emotion possible.
I was sad for Henrietta’s death. I was amazed at all of the progress that came as a result of her (legally taken without consent) cells. I was angry at the culture of abuse, poverty and philandering that surrounded the Lacks family. I cried like a baby when Deborah and Zakariyya looked through that microscope. I was proud of Deborah’s determination to learn about what happened to her mother and her sister. I was puzzled by the ethical questions surrounding the HeLa cells.
And then I donated money to the Henrietta Lacks Foundation because I am one of the biggest bleeding hearts you’ll ever meet.
When does research based on tissues taken without consent cross the line from noble to questionable? Is it when people and/or institutions profit from it? What if the profit is only increased prominence? I have no answers, but I’m glad that The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks offered me these questions to think about.