Immortal life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

What Life Lessons Can Be Learned From The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot?

There are many lessons to be learned from the biography Immortal life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot. It offers advice on scientific research, family dynamics, law, bioethics, among others. This book looks at the life of Henrietta Lacks from a different a perspective: an empowered patient (Skloot, R. (2010).

By examining Henrietta Lacks family’s experiences, the reader can increase their own knowledge on the health care system. In addition, it teaches patients about the more practical elements of health, such as tissue specimens, organs and blood. After reading the book, one becomes more curious about biomedical research. Some of the issues raised in Immortal life of Henrietta Lacks are donation preservation, sales, tissue removal and distribution. The book teaches one to personally follow up on medical tests and to look more deeply into critical issues such as giving organ and tissue samples. Lacks shows that it is important for a patient who has had tumor removal to follow the trail in order to know whether it has been disposed, used for medical research, stored or sold (Skloot, R., & Mone, G., 2013).

Immortal life of Henrietta Lacks also teaches readers about research and cell contamination. It shows how many years research has been conducted and how millions of dollars had been used to investigate cell contamination. A lot of resources and time go to waste because of cell contamination (Skloot, R., 2010).

Henrietta Lacks came from a humble background; she was poor and was also a black tobacco farmer. She contributed a lot to research due to the examination of blood cells. It was a powerful tool for creating cloning, in vitro fertilization, gene mapping and creating a cure for polio. She has taught people to be willing to contribute to research, as it aids many other people and even saves lives (Skloot, R., & Mone, G., 2013).

This biography also instructs us about faith healing, scientific discovery, race and the collision between ethics. Lacks never knew her mother had so many questions about her. It shows how experiments were conducted back then on African Americans, how bioethics was born and how one has control over every part of their body. It teaches us that every patient has rights and no doctor should take cells from a patient without the patient’s consent (Kleinman, P., 2011).

With the help of the book, which has created in-depth medical awareness for countless readers, laws may finally be made to protect Lacks’ family. The family did not know about Hela (Henrietta Lacks’ cells) until twenty years after Henrietta was dead and scientists started conducting experiments on her children. This was illegal and inhuman: genetic information should be private and confidential. Koch, T. (2012).

Skloot, R. (2010). The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. New York: Crown Publishers.
Skloot, R., & Mone, G. (2013). The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. Boston : Random House Childrens Books, 2013.
Koch, T. (2012). Thieves of Virtue: When Bioethics Stole Medicine. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Kleinman, P. (2011). A Ton of Crap : The Bathroom Book That’s Filled to the Brim with Knowledge. Avon, MA.: Adams Media.