Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

By: Sean Hardy

Summary of the book

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, is a book about the HeLa cells and how they were wrongfully taken from Henrietta Lacks. Henrietta went to Johns Hopkins Hospital in 1951, to get a "knot" on her cervix looked at. The doctors found she had cervical cancer that was spreading very rapidly. During the examination, some tissue was removed some of the tumor without Mrs. Lacks knowledge, and sent to George Gey's lab. Gey was the head of tissue cultures at John Hopkins and had been trying to get cells to divide on their own for years. The cells began to grow very rapidly and Gey had made a medical break though, but never informed the family.
Eventually the cells were distributed all over the world, and become a huge business with great financial gain. The Lacks family found out about the cells but because they were not well off financially, and were poorly educated they did not understand about the cells. They were confused and thought Henrietta was still alive in these labs. The Lackses were also upset that other people were gaining profit from Henrietta's cells while they were still very poor.

Rebecca Skloot, the author in this book, works to uncover the truth about Henrietta's story and help the family gain some understanding of the situation, and also let the world know that the HeLa cells were wrongfully taken.

Importance of this book in the Biology Curriculum

This book is important to have in the biology curriculum because, it shows us the importance of bio-ethics and what the consequences can be if those are not followed. In this day and age with all the new technology bio-ethics is very important to protecting people. If your DNA or cells were taken from you without permission, they could be used for any number of tests, This book has shown me that if I was in The Lacks family position I would be very upset and felt taken advantage of as well. I would not people all over the world testing and having my cells.