Don's Reviews > The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
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's review
Sep 06, 2011

it was amazing
bookshelves: ethics, history, non-fiction, science
Read from October 10 to 18, 2011

An absolutely fascinating read. The book is focused around HeLa cells, which are cancerous cells that were taken from a poor African-American women named Henrietta Lacks without her knowledge and consent. The author, Rebecca Skloot, with solid writing and objectivity takes the reader through the history of these cells and their monumental contribution to scientific research over the last fifty years.

Skloot shines even more when she addresses the history of the Lacks family, and the effect that this story of their mother (which they did not learn until significant time after her passing) with sensitivity and a subjectivity that never seems to feel inappropriate.

Throughout the telling of these stories, topics ranging from the medical ethics of scientific research to socio-economic and racial factors are addressed and inevitable makes the reader confront these serious questions with serious thinking, particularly in light of the continued advances of medical and scientific technology.

Do we own our cells? Tissues? Do we control such when they are removed from our bodies? What's required to obtain "informed" consent in such situations? If you have ever thought about these issues, are just have an interest in ethics as it relates to medical and scientific progress, this is definite read.

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