Ethical Principles Essay

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Henrietta Lacks Henrietta Lacks was an African American woman who lived from August 1, 1920 – October 4, 1951, and passed away at the age of 31. Henrietta was born in Roanoke, Virginia. She later moved to Clover, Virginia, at the age of four years old, were she was placed by her father to live with her grandfather Tommy Lacks. They lived in a two story log cabin that had once served as the slave quarters on her white great grandfather, and great uncles plantation. Here Henrietta met her first cousin, and soon to be husband David “Day” Lacks. Henrietta and David worked on the plantation as tobacco farmers until they moved to Maryland in 1941, where David would work at Bethlehem Steel’s Sparrow’s Point steel mill ("", n.d.). In January of 1951 Henrietta Lacks went to Johns Hopkins Hospital complaining of a “knot” inside of her. Her doctor, Howard W. Jones, examined the lump in her cervix, and cut off a small part of the tumor. Henrietta was treated with radium tube inserts, and was ordered to return for follow up X-ray’s. During her treatments, two samples were removed from her cervix. One sample a healthy one, and the other from the cancerous region. These samples were taken without Henrietta’s knowledge or consent, and given to a doctor by the name of George Otto Gey. These samples, or cells, would come to be known worldwide, as the HeLa immortal cell line, and would be used in research for decades to come ("", n.d.). Scientific Research Dr. George Otto Gey discovered that there was something different about the cell sample that were taken from Henrietta Lacks cervix. Unlike typical cancer cells that would die within days from being removed, Henrietta’s cells could be kept alive and would grow. Dr. Gey was able to isolate a single cell that would multiply and reproduce a cell line. This cell line was named HeLa after Henrietta Lacks.
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