Day 15 of 31 Days of Books off my Shelf

Day 15


Eye opening.  When asked to describe this book…. eye opening.  Questions about bioethical issues have run around in my head since I read it.  Things of which I question and know little.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks  
Rebecca Skloot

 In the 1950’s, a poor farmer named Henrietta Lacks became ill and while in the hospital, the doctor took a sample to test.  The doctor kept that tissue sample and performed research with it and a remarkable thing occurred, her cells immortalized.  

“Only cells that had been transformed by a virus or a genetic 
mutation had the potential to become immortal”

Most cells die but Henrietta’s didn’t.  More than 60 years since her death, Henrietta’s cells, known as HeLa, continue to multiply. They were responsible for the polio vaccine being developed as well as many other advancements in science, past and present.

“produced twenty thousand tubes of HeLa— about 6 trillion cells every week.  
It was the first-ever cell production factory, and it started with a single vial of HeLa “

Ms. Skloot has written the Lacks family’s story in an engaging and informative style.   She tells of their poverty and of their lack of knowledge that Henrietta’s cells were being used and that others were profiting from them and how learning about the cells caused legal and emotional ramifications for members of the family.

” a search of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office database 
turns up more than seventeen thousand patents involving He La cells.”
The biggest concern this book highlighted for me was with the issue of rights.

“At this point no case law has fully clarified whether you own or have the right to control your tissues.  When they’re part of your body, they’re clearly yours.  Once they’re excised, your rights get murky. “

 Did I stir your interest?  What do you think?

Happy Reading!
“In the way of righteousness there is life; along that path is immortality.”  
Proverbs 12:28 NIV Bible

Interested in  my other book posts?

2 thoughts on “Day 15 of 31 Days of Books off my Shelf

  1. I'm glad you posted this, I've heard from everyone that it's a great read. At my book club we are having trouble thinking of books (this is mainly because we finish at midnight after several hours of wine, gossip and every now and then discussing the book, lol.) I'm going to make a list and keep it with me for next time!

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