The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks: Part 2

  • What did you think about reading?

After part one of the book, I was insanely curious about two things. The first was how Henrietta’s family would deal with her death. The second was how her cells would be used. I was not disappointed. Rebecca Skloot manages to wonderfully divide part two with both the personal and scientific side of the amazing HeLa story. It answered my two main questions but brought up so many more. Overall, Henrietta and her immortal cell line were part of a story that stretches over decades and spans the globe. 

  • What did you learn?

Part two really informed me on how medical consent and patient knowledge really wasn’t enforced. For example, a virologist named Chester Southam injected HeLa cells into women with leukemia to see how it would affect them. However, the women were only told he was testing their immune system. He also injected prisoners with the cells to see how it would affect healthy individuals. Also, part two brought up more social stigmas. In Lacks town, there are both white and black Lacks living on the same land. However, they don’t seem to interact or even know much about the others. In addition, Skloot talks about how Henrietta’s children grew up and how they were affected by their mother’s death.

  • What questions do you still have?

Part two opens up a whole river of questions. How did Henrietta’s children act in their adult life? What were HeLa cells used for? How did her family find out? What was their reaction?

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2 thoughts on “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks: Part 2

  1. I also think part two really informed me to the medical consent and patient knowledge during that era. Before I read this book I didn’t know that the medical consent and patient knowledge weren’t enforced. What also interested me was that her cells were used for so many things for the medical field that didn’t just have to do with cervical cancer, which were the type of cells they were.

  2. You bring up an interesting brief point. This is a matter that not only spans across america as being important, but across the whole world. Although I am unaware of the codes other countries use concerning patient tissues, the fact that the HeLa cells are so contagious and scientists where sending them every where caused revolutionary ideas in many different places. When Ms. Skloot talks about how the white Lacks and the black Lacks had lived on the same land as each other but didn’t know one another is just an example of the times back then and how the whites would have nothing to do with the blacks, even if they were family.

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