Henrietta Lacks was an African-American woman who unknowingly revolutionized modern medicine. Born in Roanoke, Virginia on August 1, 1920 to Eliza and Johnny Pleasant, Henrietta married tobacco farmer Day Lacks at the age of 14. In 1951 she was diagnosed with cervical cancer at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore and underwent treatment there until her death eight months later on October 4th. Though her life ended too soon, Henrietta’s legacy lives on through the cells taken from her tumor during one of her hospital visits that were used by scientist George Gey to create the world’s first immortal cell line. This means that her cells could live forever as long as they are kept alive in a lab environment; this is something no other human had achieved before or since. As a result, these so-called HeLa cells have been invaluable for medical research into a variety of diseases such as HIV/AIDS, polio, cancer and Parkinson’s disease among many others. Not only did Henrietta provide us with HeLa cells but she also paved the way for ethical standards regarding informed consent when it comes to using patient data or tissue samples for scientific research. At the time of Henrietta’s treatment doctors didn’t need permission to take samples without informing patients “hence why she had no idea what happened to them” however after people became aware of her story laws were introduced requiring scientists get permission before using any patient material for research purposes. Henrietta may not have known it then but today we can see how much good came out of those few simple cells taken from her body all those years ago – providing hope to countless individuals struggling with serious illness around the world.

Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks Essay Example
344 words 2 pages

This book describes how HeLa cells came to be. The research field has benefitted many people due to the discovery of new biomedical practices. However, it is rife with gross misconduct concerning ethical issues. In the case of Henrietta Lacks, her tumor cells were obtained without her consent. In the first part of the book, […]

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Henrietta Lacks Life
Scientific Racism: The Exploitation of African Americans Essay Example
1523 words 6 pages

How were black people treated during vaccine studies for cancer, polio, and syphilis? In texts such as The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks By Rebecca Skloot, “Racism and Research: The Case of the Tuskegee Syphilis Study” By Allan Brandt, “The Medicine of the Future: A History of the Department of Preventive and Social Medicine” By […]

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Henrietta Lacks
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