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The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

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Madison Stallings

on 6 September 2012

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Transcript of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

by Rebecca Skloot The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks Rebecca Skloot is the daughter of novelist, poem writer, and essayist, Floyd Skloot. She has degrees in nonfiction writing and biological science. She has taught creative writing at NYU and UM and has over 200 stories published by her. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks takes place in Baltimore, Maryland in the 1950's. This is the story of Henrietta Lacks, the woman who's cells created the successful cell line, HeLa. The book talks about her decendants, while also traces back when cell line research started. In 1951, a poor black woman living on a tobacco farm named Henrietta Lacks was diagnosed with cervical cancer. During the mdical exam on her cervix, cells from her cervix were taken (without her knowing at all) and were used to develope the first immortal cell line. It turns out, Henrietta's cells (named HeLa from the first two letter of her first and last name) were very helpful for the vaccine for polio, gene mapping, cloning and more. Henrietta died months after he surgery, and although her cells were very successful in achieving a lot of things and were sold and bought by millions, Henrietta's family and children recieved no recognition and still dont have health insurance to this day. They didn't even find out about their mother's cells until 20 years after Henrietta died. Henrietta Lacks- A poor black woman who works on a tobacco farm and is also diagnosed with cervical cancer. Main Characters David (day)- Her cousin, also her husband. Deborah Lacks- Henrietta's daughter. One of the major characters. A woman who never really knew her own mother, nor about HeLa and her mothers cells. Elsie and Lawrence Lacks- Henrietta's first two children. Dr. TeLinde and Dr.Grey- The doctors who took Henrietts cells for their research. Cootie Lacks- Henrietta's cousin who suffers from the effects of childhood polio, and also whom author, Rebecca Skloot goes to visit in 1999. He is very confused about HeLa Rebecca Skloot became very interested in biology in college. She even earned a degree in biological science. She wrote this book to prove the complications of the issue to tissue rights are. She wanted to prove that there is a human to ever biological sample in the lab. In the book, Rebecca jumps from the 1950's to present day, just to let both stories inform eachother. Rebecca Skloot has a way of telling the story of Hela cells vividly. For readers like me who are unknowledgeable about cell life and medical research, Rebecca draws from everyday life for comparisons and illistrates the scientific information making her story both engaging and understandable! The story mainly reads like a detective case.
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