Analysis Of Rebecca Skloot's The Immortal Life Of Henrietta Lacks

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In recounting Henrietta Lacks’ history, Rebecca Skloot in The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, does not shy away from moral complexities such as informed consent and ethics. She uses narratives from Henrietta’s life to show how ethical wrongdoings of the hospital affected not only Henrietta’s existence, but her family’s. Text on the front and inside cover of Skloot’s book conveys this exact message, “Doctors took her cells without asking… Henrietta’s family did not learn of her ‘immortality’ until more than 20 years after her death, when scientists investigating HeLa began using her husband and children in research without informed consent. ” Throughout her book, Skloot skillfully analyses a real story of medical ethics by pointing out ironic situations and conveying her argument by an equal amount of…show more content…
At first glance, the harvesting of cancer cells from Henrietta Lacks ' tumor seemed like no big deal. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks reports many examples of violations of the Lackses’ privacy, such as the retrieval of her cancer cells, and being misinformed about her inability to have children after treatment. After Henrietta’s death, Skloot describes Mary Kubicek being asked to assist with Henrietta’s autopsy to retrieve more cells. Skloot describes Mary’s reaction, “When I saw toenails …I thought, Oh jeez, she’s a real person… it hit me for the first time that those cells we’d been working with all this time and sending all over the world, they came from a live woman. I’d never thought of it that way” (Skloot, 2010, page 91). When Mary is confronted with Henrietta’s humanity, Skloot shows that when doctors and scientists dissociate their work, their human subjects are at the cost. When morals come into play, everything changes and Skloot reinforces
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