Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

By: Rebecca Skloot 4.5/5

WOW what a story, what an unbelievable turn of events! First and foremost, I feel that in my days as a student I have heard about HeLa, but never, like many thought anything about it. No one tells you what these cells are, no one questions anything that professors tell you to take for granted – except Rebecca Skloot.

Ms. Skloot works for years - after first hearing about HeLa cells in her class – to get to the bottom of the story.  She explores the story of Henrietta Lacks, a black woman in the 1950s whose cervical cancerous cells were taken (the norm at the time). She explores the roles proprietary laws of one’s own from the 1950s to today.

I learned all sorts of information, including the horribleness of medical life for African Americans in the 1950s.


I found Deborah, no matter what tragedies she had, to be selfish and self pitying, the same with the rest of the family.  They are not the only ones with problems, and issues and it happened. To be rude and to stay uneducated about a subject is LAZY. If the family felt wronged, they should have worked themselves to be better educated on the subject. Yes  there are circumstances, lack of money, but even in the 90s there are non-profits and government agencies that can help.

I found family to be unappreciative of anyone who is trying to do something good, like the ladies group and their ignorance and lack of desire to get past that disgusting. This is not to take away from the fact that the family was wronged – due to practices of the time. This is not to ignore the fact of lack of information and miscommunication on the cells, or the fact the story is truly phenomenal and changed the science world completely.

I loved learning how HIPPA came into play, and how different government agencies came about. I love to know where we are today with science and the role that we, all individuals play. How do I feel about a database of my blood somewhere that they might or might not test diseases on me? I don’t know.

Great book for a discussion group.

1 comment:

  1. I am glad you liked it, Elinor! I felt like I learned so much from the book and it sparked a lot of thinking!!