Unlike White mothers who birthed their children in hospitals; Henrietta birthed her child in her grandfather’s home-house, a four room cabin previously used as slave quarters. While White patients were certain to receive the upmost patient ca... ... middle of paper ... ....S. Public Health Service advanced medical technology, it came at a high cost. A high cost that resulted in many African-Americans dead and a breach of trust for medical professionals. In the notable experiments of Henrietta Lacks, The Tuskegee Syphilis Men, and The Pellagra Incident, medical professions in no way protected the lives of these individuals. In fact, they used the medical advances discovered as a result of the human experimentations as a shield to mask the unethical decisions.
After a week, she felt something was wrong with her body and she turned up pregnant with her fifth child. Her cousins, Sadie and Margaret, told her that the pain probably had something to do with the baby. “However, Henrietta said that it was not, because the knot is there before the baby” (Skloot 36). After her son was born, Henrietta told her husband, David Lack, to bring her to the doctor because she was bleeding in her vagina when it was not her time. They went to a clinic at Johns Hopkins hospital.
The children were then disbursed throughout the family and Henrietta was sent to live with her grandfather, Tommy Lacks, on the farm, who was caring at the time for her older cousin David Day Lacks. At the age of fourteen she gave birth to her first of five children by her first cousin David Lacks. Education at that time was not a priority for the Lacks family. Henrietta only had a six grade education. Now that we have some basic background on Henrietta Lacks, let’s take a look at her diagnosis and death.
HeLa cells were one of the greatest medical inventions that came about for the scientific field and yet the woman behind this medical feat is not fully remembered and honored. Her cells and tissue were taken away from her without consent and more than that, she was exploited for being black and not questioning what the doctor was doing. Her family suffered through countless years of agonizing pain in which they were misinformed about where and what her cells were being used for. Yes, HeLa cells changed the way we view medicine today, but only at the cost of creating one of the greatest controversies of owning ones body. Works Cited Skloot, Rebecca.
Lacks was an African-American tobacco farmer born in Virginia. Lacks was a young mom with five children early in her life and married her first cousin. In early 1951 Lacks went to Johns Hopkins Hospital for a “knot” she felt inside of her. When Lacks told her cousins about the knot they assumed she was pregnant. They had presumed correctly, but after giving birth to her fifth child Lacks started bleeding abnormally and in large amounts.
Abraham Lincoln Abraham Lincoln was born on February 12, 1809 in Kentucky. When he was two, the Lincoln’s moved a few miles to another farm on the old Cumberland Trail. A year later, his mother gave birth to another boy, Thomas, but he died a few days later. When Lincoln was seven his family moved to Indiana. In 1818, Lincoln’s mother died from a deadly disease called the “milk-sick.” Then ten years later his sister died and left him with only his father and stepmother.
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by: Rebecca Skloot has a lot of themes, but one that is most relevant in my opinion is the racial politics of medicine. Throughout the chapters, there were examples of how Henrietta, being African American, prevented her from receiving the same treatment as the white woman sitting right next to her in the waiting room. The story begins with Henrietta going to Johns Hopkins Hospital and asking a physician to check a “knot on her womb.” Skloot describes that Henrietta had been having pain around that area for about a year, and talked about it with her family, but did not do anything until the pains got intolerable. The doctor near her house had checked if she had syphilis, but it came back negative, and he recommended her to go to John Hopkins, a known university hospital that was the only hospital in the area that would treat African American patients during the era of Jim Crow. It was a long commute, but they had no choice.
In 1951, one woman’s misfortune became the ultimate breakthrough and lead to a huge discovery in science. Henrietta Lacks was a lower class African-American woman living in Baltimore, Maryland at the time. She had been suffering from a “knot in her womb” that caused her to experience grave pain. In the 1950’s, a time when hospitals turned away lower class African American patients away, they had access to receive free treatment from the public ward at Johns Hopkins Hospital. Although doctors there agreed to examine these patients, it is questionable how thorough and genuine they were throughout the examination.
Henrietta was a black woman born August 1, 1920 in Roanoke, Virginia. She had her first child when she was 14 with her cousin Day. She then has a baby girl and then married when she was 18 on April 10, 1941. It all started after Henrietta’s fifth child was born when Henrietta said that she felt a knot inside of her womb. Her friends said it was just her baby, but Henrietta knew it wasn’t.
Gey took HeLa cells from her cervix while he was examined her. In the beginning of 1950s, African-American patients never questioned a white man’s judgment. Henrietta was one of them; she did not know what kind of illness she had and was instructed to come back regularly for her radium treatment for her cancer and Gey happened to take her cells there. Gey examined her cells and surprisingly found out that HeLa cells were different. HeLa cells itself is cancer cells that was the key to a lot of medications.