Jezebelle's Book Club discussion

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
The Immortal Life of Henrietta > What did we get from this book?

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message 1: by Annie (last edited Nov 15, 2013 10:18AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Annie | 101 comments Mod
I've been spending the last 30 minutes of each day after I read just thinking about it.
What did you all get from the book?

Michele Baber | 20 comments Mod
My big takeaway was that institutional racism had done irreparable harm to the lacks family in particular, and so many others as well. The chapter discussing the hospital that Elsie was sent to haunts me. I'm so sad.

Allison F. | 2 comments I'm currently taking a medical ethics class, and this book got me thinking about the meaning of informed consent. It's supposed to mean you understand the procedure and the associated risks and rewards, which was obviously not the case here (for both Henrietta and her descendants). BUT given the state of their education in biology, I'm not sure they were capable of giving informed consent. So does that mean its unethical to give undereducated people medicine or include them in medical trials? It just made me so sad that they implied her kids think that (sorry it's been awhile since I read the book I may be misremem

Allison F. | 2 comments Posted too soon
I May be misremembering but I thought they implied that her kids think she could be cloned from her cells and brought back to life. And her cells aren't even human anymore, they've gone through so many mutations that they don't even have the right number of chromosomes.
I also really enjoyed the history of cell culture. I didn't realize it took them so long to figure out how to get cell lines!

Carla | 14 comments I also really enjoyed the book. So much nerdy cell biology, and yes a dark history of medical research that is nothing like the present!

For the last part of the book, was anyone else thinking that the author showed Henrietta's family in a really unflattering light? All the exact quotes and details about them made them out to be a bit nutty. I don't know! Almost as if by portraying them so honestly and prolifically, the book used too many things about their private life for our own morbid fascination.

Annie | 101 comments Mod
Yeah, I got the feeling that the Lacks family didn't want much to do with the reporter (I don't blame them) and I think they weren't painted in exactly the best way. I do think that some of the family members seemed confused or didn't understand really what the cells were - I got the impression that they thought their grandmother was somehow still alive? I think she was trying to show what Michelle says up thread, that "institutional racism had done irreparable harm to the Lacks family in particular".

It sucks that the Lacks family lived in poverty while the HeLa cells were helping make other researchers wealthy but I felt like the author was kind of hinting at that the family should have been financially compensated for the cells. I don't like the idea of hospitals and research facilities paying poor people or buying from them their cells, tumors, organs, etc.

message 8: by Kimberly (new)

Kimberly Bush (Kimberfly) | 5 comments How do you feel about the Lacks family's "restitution" from NIH?

Annie | 101 comments Mod
Kimberly wrote: "How do you feel about the Lacks family's "restitution" from NIH?"

Thanks for the link!

message 10: by Markeisha (new) - added it

Markeisha (wordsofareader) Please help...I must know what your thoughts are on this book
Lies Women Believe: And the Truth that sets them free
By: Nancy Leigh De'moss

message 11: by Annie (last edited Dec 23, 2013 10:29PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Annie | 101 comments Mod
I've not read this book.

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