Critical Analysis Of The Immortal Life Of Henrietta Lacks By Rebecca Skloot

1259 words - 5 pages

The book The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot, was a nonfiction story about the life of Henrietta Lacks, who died of cervical cancer in 1951. Henrietta did not know that her doctor took a sample of her cancer cells a few months before she died. “Henrietta cells that called HeLa were the first immortal human cells ever grown in a laboratory” (Skloot 22). In fact, the cells from her cervix are the most important advances in medical research. Rebecca was interested to write this story because she was anxious with the story of HeLa cells. When she was in biology class, her professor named Donald Defler gave a lecture about cells. Defler tells the story about Henrietta Lacks and HeLa cells. However, the professor ended his lecture when he said that Henrietta Lacks was a black woman. In this book, Rebecca wants to tell the truth about the story of Henrietta Lacks during her medical process and the rights for Henrietta’s family after she died.
The story started when Henrietta felt knots in her body. People around her said that maybe the knots were because she was pregnant. However, Henrietta never felt these knots before she was pregnant. 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. In this hospital, Howard Jones, a gynecologist, did an examination of Henrietta and he found a cervical tumor in her body. “Jones cut a small sample and sent it to the pathology lab down the hall for diagnosis”. (Skloot 38)
A few days later, Henrietta came back to the hospital and Jones gave her biopsy result from the pathology lab. Jones said to Henrietta that she had cervical cancer. At that time, Jones and his boss, Richard Wesley TeLinde, were involved in a heated nationwide debate over what qualified as cervical cancer. TeLinde was one of the top cervical cancer experts in the country. However, he was like many other doctors of his era, he often used the patients for research without their permission. Most of the doctors thought it was fair to use black patients for research since they were treated for free.
Henrietta came to the hospital again for her treatment. Before she started the treatment, she went straight to the admission desk and signed a form with the words operation permit. The form said: “I hereby give consent to the staff of The Johns Hopkins Hospital to perform any operative procedure and under anesthetic either local or general that they may deem necessary in the proper surgical care and treatment” (Skloot 54). The doctor who led Henrietta’s operation was Dr. Lawrence Wharton Jr....

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