Henrietta Lacks, who was diagnosed with a very unique form cervical cancer, is the face behind the famous HeLa cells, which are the first immortal cells that is being used for research purposes throughout the world to this very day. But, lying on the bed of St John Hopkins’s…
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Lacks died of cancer but her cells live on.
Henrietta Lacks’s story holds great importance because of the fact that there are several ethical issues that raises concern. The ethical issues raised in those times, exist even today in some places; however there are certain legal procedures and laws that lay down guideline for the ethics to be followed by researchers.
The first ethical issue that comes to my mind is that of “confidentiality”. The ethical issue of confidentiality in research means that the identity, privacy and all information about the patient must be treated as highly confidential in nature. The identity of people being used for a particular research or study should never be revealed. It is the researcher’s responsibility to protect the identity. However, in Lack’s case, confidentiality was not maintained. The researchers did not reveal only her name but also revealed her race to the world. In those times, there were no binding laws that called for confidentiality on part of the researchers.
Today, it is mandatory for researchers using human tissues to respect the privacy of the subjects and safeguard their identity. One of the most popular to keep things confidential is the use of pseudonymisation or use a code in place of real identification of the human subjects (Kalra et al, 2006)
The next ethical issue worth that I would like to discuss is that of “informed consent”. Human tissues and cells are of great importance to the research world however these tissues and cells need to be procured from people with appropriate consent. People have the right to know how their cells are being used for research. In Henrietta’s case, she was not informed about her doctor’s decision of tumorous cell extraction. She was not even asked for consent. In the 1950’s, issues about informed consent was still in infancy stages, so Dr.Gey was not compelled in any way to ask Henrietta Lacks’s consent for
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These cells became celebrities in the world of medical research and have given success to many scientists and science projects. What is even more worrying is that the name of the contributor of the cells was changed, and this as Jeffery (2009) says, is a thing that needs to be changed in the medical research field.
However, the book discusses a number of ethical issues that are associated to HeLa cells and makes one wonder about the ethical issues that exist today. Henrietta Lacks, an African-American woman and a mother five was diagnosed with cervical cancer. Dr.Gey noticed that Lack’s tumorous cells behaved astonishingly abnormally and divided really fast when compared to other tumor cells.
Her cells live on in research laboratories all over the world providing priceless leads to scientists studying the genetic changes that can change a normal cell into a malignant one. All over the world Henrietta Lack’s cells continue to divide incessantly day after day.
The researcher states that the plot of the book observed is a combination of several themes including illiteracy, gender, race, and poverty. All of the themes of the story best integrate into one scene from 2001 in which Deborah and her brother are led by the Austrian research, Christoph Lengauer into his lab in the basement.
It is an exact depiction of the emotional turmoil faced by Henrietta's family, during their journey to find about Henrietta's immortal cancer cells, named as HeLa cells, used for research without the patient or family’s knowledge or consent . These cells because of its rare kind were a great scientific discovery and still hold importance in scientific research.
Conversely, the chapter tracks the story of how the medical professionals who had recently discovered the contamination problem that has been related in the prior summary paper that was submitted could be solved. The medical researchers decided the best means to solve the contamination issue would be to obtain genetic markers from Henrietta Lack’s family as a means of specifically determining which cells were contaminated and which cells were not.
The author shows struggling of two main characters of the story – mother and daughter, reviling the internal world of both women. The mother struggled to help her daughter, praying for her to be healed at revival meetings to no avail. Skloot claimed “a bit of Henrietta died” when Elsie, her daughter, went away.
ot tells of a painful story of Henrietta Lacks, a poor African-American tobacco farmer who died of cancer after fighting with the disease for a long time. However, before her death, doctors removed a cancer cell from her body without her knowledge, which they later used to
This is because for a writer who started of by writing about the agonizing life of a woman who had to battle cervical cancer, the author could however give readers and especially the family of the antagonist, who was Henrietta Lacks a very high level of hope that even though she died eventually, she continues to live because out of her cancer cell, a remedy cell called HeLa that was to be a life saving cell was to be found to help other people survive.
Rebecca Skloot in her book, the Immortal life of Henrietta Lacks delves into the truth behind HeLa cells and highlights several ethical issues that gently surface. Henrietta lacks cancer cells were abnormal in nature. Lack’s doctor, Dr.Gey noticed that the cells grew exponentially in a short span of time, which was the same rate at which they were growing and spreading in Henrietta’s body.
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