The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks Quotes by Rebecca Skloot(page 2 of 3)
Was the Renaissance medically significant?
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
Wikimedia Commons When Henrietta Lacks went to Johns Hopkins for cancer treatment, she unwittingly made a tremendous contribution to science. Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore has long been considered one of the best hospitals in the country. Back in the s, in the midst of the Jim Crow era, Johns Hopkins offered another important service: it was one of the only places where poor blacks could seek medical care. Wikimedia Commons The HeLa cells up close. Lacks was a year old black woman originally from Virginia — she and her husband had left behind the tobacco fields where their ancestors had worked for generations to seek employment in Baltimore during the war.
In , a young mother of five named Henrietta Lacks visited The Johns Hopkins Hospital complaining of vaginal bleeding. Upon examination, renowned gynecologist Dr. Howard Jones discovered a large, malignant tumor on her cervix. As medical records show, Mrs. Lacks began undergoing radium treatments for her cervical cancer.
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In her book, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks , Rebecca Skloot documents the histories of both the cell line—called the HeLa cell line after the first two letters of her first and last names to protect her identity—and the Lacks family. Suspicions fueled by racial issues prevalent in the South at the time were compounded by issues of class and education. The basic facts about the story of Henrietta Lacks are well documented. On February 1, , Ms. After a biopsy, she was diagnosed with cervical cancer. The appearance of the tumor was unlike anything the examining gynecologist, Dr.
Henrietta Lacks was born in in Roanoke, Virginia. Lacks died of cervical cancer in Cells taken from her body without her knowledge were used to form the HeLa cell line, which has been used extensively in medical research since that time. Lacks's case has sparked legal and ethical debates over the rights of an individual to his or her genetic material and tissue. At some point, she changed her name to Henrietta. After the death of her mother in , Henrietta was sent to live with her grandfather in a log cabin that had been the slave quarters of a white ancestor's plantation.
Though Henrietta Lacks never traveled further than from Virginia to Baltimore, her cells are alive--and multiplying--in labs the world over. Opening photo: Youngest son David Lacks holds a photo of a portrait done of his parents, shortly before his mother died. Photo by Bill Denison. As the film rolled, her long thin face teased the camera, flashing a seductive grin as she moved, her eyes locked on the lens. She tilted her head back and raised her hands, waving them softly in the air before letting them fall to smooth her curlers.