Jo's Reviews > The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
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's review
Aug 08, 2010

it was amazing
bookshelves: biography, diversity-understanding, history, science
Read from August 08 to 12, 2010

Rebecca Skloot is to be congratulated on this powerful magnum opus, the result of her many years of hard work, patience, and skill tracking down the story of Henrietta Lacks, an African American woman who died of cervical cancer in her early 30s leaving a husband, 5 children and her extraordinary tumor cells that led to the creation of the first line of "immortal cells". The cell line is named HeLa, still the primary workhorse cells used in laboratory research around the world, and beyond, in space research. Henrietta herself was never asked for consent to use her tissue; and her family, so poor they couldn't afford desperately needed health care themselves, didn't learn about the existence of the HeLa cells, and the multi-billion dollar biomedical industry they had seeded, for more than 20 years after Harriet's death. Skloot writes lucidly about the science (I love her description of cell functioning), her extraordinary discoveries about both medical history and the history of the Lacks family, and conflicts in medical ethics that persist to this day. Rebecca Skloot is a white woman who shares the truth of this deeply racist narrative with determination and grace.
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08/08/2010 page 32
06/05/2016 marked as: read
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