Immortal Henrietta Ethics In Biomedical Research

1268 words - 6 pages

Henrietta Lacks was a strong African-American woman, who died because of cancer without knowing that her cells were immortal and very useful for medical research. Her family lived a poverty life without health care, when her cell was commercialized all around the world. How this can be happened? It related to the ethics of biomedical research and the real meaning of consent.
Henrietta was born on August 1, 1920 in Roanoke, Virginia. Her mother died when she delivered her tenth child. Because of losing her mother, Henrietta ended up to stay with her grandfather, Tommy Lacks. However, Henrietta Grandfather raised another grandchild already. The child name was David Lack and people called ...view middle of the document...

She just said that the doctor will cure her soon. Henrietta signed a consent form of operation permit that said, “I hereby give consent to the staff of The Johns Hopkins Hospital to perform any operative procedures and under any anaesthetic either local or general that they may deem necessary in the proper surgical care and treatment of _______” (Henrietta 21). When Henrietta signed the consent, there was also a witness who signed in the bottom of the form.
In this case, Henrietta only agreed that the medical team of Hopkins will cure her through an operation process. Anything related to her proper surgical care and treatment was approved. However, there was something that the staff of Hopkins done without Henrietta agreement. Dr. Lawrence Wharton Jr., was Hopkins surgeon on duty; before he placed radium inside Henrietta’s cervix, he removed a dime-sized of Henrietta’s tissues. There were two samples of her tissues, one from Henrietta’s healthy cervix tissue and the other was her tumor. Surprisingly, there was no one told Henrietta that they will collect a sample of her cervical tissue. There was no agreement about donating any tissue of her body even only a dime-sized. Even though at the end of the operation process, Wharton wrote that Henrietta’s cervical tissue given to Dr. George Gey in the lab; Henrietta did not know any information about it. Henrietta never questions her doctor’s; as a black woman she just glad that she got the treatments.
Next, the assistance of Dr. Gey in the laboratory found out that Henrietta’s tumor tissue called HeLa for Henrietta Lacks was not died and continuously grew and double their numbers in twenty four hours. The cells grew faster than the normal cells. Dr. Gey told his close friends about the first immortal cell, and then he shared Henrietta’s cells. Dr. Gey said that he used Henrietta’s cell to find a way to stop cancer. He was also sent HeLa to other researcher in Texas, India, New York, Amsterdam, and many places between (p. ?). Those researchers also shared HeLa to other researcher, who also gave HeLa to more people still.
On the other hand, Henrietta did know about her cells in the laboratory. After the treatment she just left the hospital and continue her life like usual. She still worked on tobacco. She had no nausea, vomiting, and weakness even though she had radium in her body. However, after no sign of cancer, she came back to hospital and the medical team found out that her body was already taken over by tumor. Her diaphragm, bladder, and lungs became a home for the cancer cells. The worst thing was her kidney could...

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