I loved The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks!

September 15, 2011

The Immortal Life of Henrietta LacksThe Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

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.

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  • Dr. D September 15, 2011 at 10:56 pm

    Ugh… my to-read list… IT IS INSURMOUNTABLE!!!!

    I guess this one just moved up one notch.

  • Jo September 18, 2011 at 4:12 pm

    I think I definitely have to read this. Took me a few seconds to connect the name to the “HeLa cells” term. i honestly wasn’t aware of the fact that there was no consent – nobody teaches you that!