Cancer Cells Made Henrietta Lacks Immortal

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Henrietta Lacks: an unknown name up until recent years. A name that had been known to the world only as HeLa; The first two letters of a name that belonged to a poor African American tobacco farmer that unknowingly changed science and life as we know it today. Her life has finally been portrayed in a very intimate story that not only does her life some justice but also transcendentally brings to mind the philosophical issues concerning medical ethics both of the past, present, and the future. In a world of constantly evolving medical advancement, science is a pivotal force that propels ideas forward. Although most will agree that the knowledge and cures found are a positive aspect, there is also a necessary evil that is involved, including when it comes to HeLa cells. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks is a unique story of a woman who spent her life in poverty, dealing with racism, and succumbing to cervical cancer, only to have her cells unknowingly taken and turned into the first immortal cell line grown in culture. Today, Henrietta’s cells are known all throughout science as HeLa cells, controversially in use since 1951. The author, Ms. Rebecca Skloot, spent ten long years of her own life unearthing this extraordinary story, intertwining her own journey into Henrietta’s history, and even forming bonds with some of her remaining family members. The Lacks family did not learn of her immortality until about twenty years after her passing, unaware that laboratories across the planet were filled with millions of HeLa cells. This story is sure to evoke some emotion and is a great basis for forming your own opinions on medical ethics. Does DNA define who we are? Being human is a biological, theological, and ethical question. We h... ... middle of paper ... ...weill.cornell.edu/news/releases/wcmc/wcmc_2013/03_25_13b.shtml. “Privacy and Medicine (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy).” Accessed November 7, 2013. http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/privacy-medicine/#ProPri. “Private Companies Own Your DNA - Again - Forbes.” Accessed November 7, 2013. http://www.forbes.com/sites/stevensalzberg/2011/07/31/private-companies-own-your-dna-again/. “Sandra S. Park | American Civil Liberties Union.” Accessed November 20, 2013. https://www.aclu.org/blog/author/sandra-s-park. “Supreme Court Strikes Down BRCA Gene Patent - ABC News.” Accessed November 20, 2013. http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/supreme-court-strikes-brca-gene-patent/story?id=19392299. “What Rights Should You Have to Your Own DNA? | SmartPlanet.” Accessed November 7, 2013. http://www.smartplanet.com/blog/rethinking-healthcare/what-rights-should-you-have-to-your-own-dna/8872.
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