The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks By Lex Thompson

Henrietta Lacks was the first person to have cells extracted and immortality grown. She died on October 4th, 1951 after her severe case of cervical cancer and radiation posioning had caused her to become bedriden. After her death doctors attempted to harvest more cells from her, but unlike the original cells they didn't survive in culture.

Henrietta Lacks before she was diagnosed with cancer (Japan Times)

Henrietta's cells have done wonders for science such as create a cure for Polio, Parkinson's, and influenza. They have also created a way for testing new drugs on human like subjects. Her cells have also caused the way doctors treat patients to change drastically.

Henrietta's cells with colored dye to highlight the different parts.

In 1920 Henrietta Lacks was born. this was important because with out her birth her cells could never have been harvested. In 1951 George Gey harvested the first immortal cell line. This is important because this event began the interest in HeLa cells. In 1952 scientists used Hela to create a vaccine for polio which was a crippling disease across the world. In 1954 the pseudonym Helen Lane appeared in print. This was a way of hiding Henrietta's name from her family. In 1965 the first animal human cell hybrid was created. This created a panic because people though that they would soon see monsters

"Like many doctors of his era, TeLinde often used patients from the public wards for research, usually without their knowledge. Many scientists believed that since patients were treated for free in the public wards, it was fair to use them as test subjects as a form of payment." (30) I chose this quote because it shows the lack of knowledge given to patients from their doctor during that time along with the practices that would now be considered illegal in today's world for the lack of informed consent from the patient samples are harvested from. This quote was also interesting because doctors not only did this but acted like it was something completely normal and ethical not only for their time but for all the time leading up to the laws requiring informed consent before anything could be harvested or operated on in the human body. My opinion on the laws being put in place to prohibit this practice should have been put in place long before it was.


Created with images by KirkOls - "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks" • skeeze - "hela cells cultured electron microscope"

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