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The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

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Stacy Louie

on 11 December 2014

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Transcript of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

Henrietta's cervix cancer cells became the world's first immortal human cells, named the "HeLa cells"
However, Henrietta never gave permission for the doctor to take her cells nor does she know anything about her cells growing in a laboratory.
George Gey and his assistant Mary Kubicek then sent these HeLa cells around the world to other researchers to conduct cancer research on them.
Helen Lane was the name that were told to the world as the person of the HeLa cells, not Henrietta Lacks.
1950s
2000s
1920
1990s
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
In Clover, she lived with her grandfather in the home-house and helped farm in the tobacco field.
Living in the home-house, she met her first cousin, which later became her future husband, David Lacks.

Later in Life: 1941-1950 (X)
Henrietta married her husband, David Lacks in 1941 and gave birth to their five children: Lawrence, Elsie, David Jr., Deborah, and Joe, respectively.
Henrietta told her cousins about the knot that she found in her womb, in which they correctly assumed that she was pregnant.
Four and half months after giving birth to Joe, Henrietta spotted blood and felt painful while going to the bathroom.
In 1951, her husband took her to a local hospital in which she tested negative for syphilis and referred her to Johns Hopkins Hospital.


Diagnosis & Death of Henrietta: 1951 (X)
On January 29, 1951, Henrietta went for treatment at Johns Hopkins, in which Dr.Jones found a lump in her cervix, later turned into cervical cancer.
During her treatment at John Hopkins, Dr.Gey took samples of her cervical tumor cells, without her permission.
On October 4, 1951, Henrietta died of terminal uremia, which was the aftermath of cervix cancer, at the age of 31.
Later discovered her tumor was misdiagnosed.



Birth of HeLa Cells: 1951(S)
Deborah Lacks' Poem (C)
In 1973, twenty-two years after Henrietta's death, her family members found out about the HeLa cells.
David, Lawrence, Sonny, Deborah, and Joe were mad when they found out.
Contemplated to sue John Hopkins and all the doctors and researchers.
Deborah diagnosed with anxiety and bipolar disorder as a result.
After Henrietta's death, doctors asked her husband for permission to do an autopsy.
After her death, Henrietta's children lived a miserable life with inadequate health care and resources.
Early Life: 1920-1940 (S)
Henrietta Lacks was a poor African American woman born in Roanoke, Virginia in 1920.
She was brought to Clover, Virginia when her mother had died giving birth to her tenth child.
Henrietta Lacks (S)
Conclusion (J)
Brief Contextualization of the Novel (X)
"The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks"
Written by Rebecca Skloot to convey the history of Henrietta Lacks and how HeLa cells has contributed to scientific/medical discoveries
Published in 2010 in the United States by Broadway Paperbacks
Won numerous awards and named "New York Times Bestseller"
Talked about ethics, race, medicine, scientific discoveries
Why/How is it valuable to readers? (C)
HeLa Cells & Henrietta's Family (C)
Overall Group Insight (X)
HeLa Cells & Discoveries(S)
HeLa cells are used in over 70,000 medical studies:
Developed polio vaccines(1952)
Determined + calculated chromosomes(1953)
Cloned cells(1954)
Used to study Salmonella(1973) HIV(1986), TB(1993)
Used to discover enzymes(1984)
Contributed to gene mapping, developed drugs, effects of nuclear explosions, sent to space, and many many more
1990-Present (J)
On May 11, 2001, Henrietta's daughter and son, Deborah and Joe, went to Hopkins to see their mother's cells for the first time after her death.
Henrietta's sons, Lawrence and Sonny, refused to go because he didn't want anything to do with Hopkins except to sue the hospital .
MultiBillion-Dollar Industy (J)
Around 1952, the owner of Microbiological Associates, begun mass production of HeLa cells and sold them to scientists and labs all over the world.
Henrietta's cells were sent worldwide and were sold for approximately $50 per vial.
HeLa cells launched into a multimillion dollar industry.
More importantly, none of these money were given to her family.
Ethical Questioning on Research (J)
A Hope for Cancer Vaccine
In February 1954, a virologist, named Chester Southam, begun injecting cancer patients, prisoners, and healthy people with HeLa cells without patient's consent.
Sotham then paired up with Emanuel Mandel, director of medicine at the Jewish Chronic Disease Hoapital, in 1963, to use some of Mandel's patients to inject with HeLa cells without telling them what they were injecting or the risks the patients would face.
A member of the hospital member named William Hyman, a lawyer, noticed what was going on and took both of them to trial to the Board of Regents and they were on probation for 1 year. Standards for research were also outlined.
Patients must be informed to the fullest.

"cancer
check up
can't afford
white and rich get it
my mother was black
black poor people don't have the money to pay for it
mad yes I am mad
we were used by taking our blood and lied to
We had to pay for our medical, can you relieve that.
John Hopkins Hospital and all other places, that has my mothers cells, don't give her
Nothing."
Do you think its ethical for people to take someone's cells without asking?
Do you think this happened to Henrietta just because she is a poor African American?
Do we have ownership our cells in our body?
What would happen if HeLa cells were not discovered?
*This book is valuable to readers as it correlates history, race, and science.

*Because she was not acknowledged for her contribution to science, this book clearly explains her story and returns her with justice and fame that she deserves.

*If HeLa cells were not discovered, think about how many lives would be taken without treatments that involves HeLa cells.


"Doctors took her cells without asking. Those cells never died. They launched a medical revolution and a multimillion-dollar industry. More than twenty years later, her children found out. Their lives would never be the same."
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