Henrietta Lacks Essay

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Ani Vonk Dr. Hall English 101 26th September, 2013 Her Immortal Life Henrietta Lacks was a strong woman. Even during the most painful times towards the end of her life, Henrietta continued to not let her illness stand in the way of living. However, Henrietta may not have had to go through these struggles if it had not been for the racism she received in regards to her medical care. Perhaps if Henrietta had been perceived as a real person, and had not been discriminated against because she was an african american woman, she would have been closer examined and her cells may not have eventually been taken without her permission. The cells taken from Henrietta did much damage, and yet, from that damage came great medical advancements that, in the long run, helped many people… except for her family. One wonders what Henrietta would think of the situation as a whole if she could be alive today. When Henrietta was diagnosed with cervical cancer, the doctors were amazed. Her cancer cells had appeared to grow rather quickly; either that, or the doctors who had seen Henrietta before had been negligent and had overlooked the knot growing on her womb. When receiving her treatment tubes of radium, the surgeon, unbeknownst to Henrietta, removed both cancerous and healthy cervix cells for Dr. George Gey, a leading researcher in the field. While it certainly was an invasion of privacy, and also showed negative moral, if the use of Henrietta’s cells had stopped there, she may have been fine with the situation, or at least understood that their long term intentions were good, however, it the use of her cells did not stop there, and Henrietta had terrible side effects from her treatment. Up until this time, 1951, scientists had not been able to grow cells outside of the body. However, when Henrietta’s cancerous cells were introduced, that changed. Dr. Gey

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