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My thoughts on this book are kind of all over the place I feel for the Lacks family, I really do It s hard to read about the poverty and lack of education and the cavalier approach towards informed consent in the early days of Johns Hopkins Research Hospital The fact that the HeLa cell line is the foundation of so much valuable research is rightfully a source of pride for the family of Henrietta Lacks I don t think they will ever see monetary compensation for their mother s cancer cell line, My thoughts on this book are kind of all over the place I feel for the Lacks family, I really do It s hard to read about the poverty and lack of education and the cavalier approach towards informed consent in the early days of Johns Hopkins Research Hospital The fact that the HeLa cell line is the foundation of so much valuable research is rightfully a source of pride for the family of Henrietta Lacks I don t think they will ever see monetary compensation for their mother s cancer cell line, however That horse left the barn a long, long time ago.Further, I don t feel the admiration for the author of this book like I think many others do She wanted to make herself out to be different than all the rest of the people who wrote about the woman behind the HeLa cell line but I only saw the similarities Yes, she has established a scholarship fund for the descendants of Henrietta Lacks but I got tired of hearing again and again how she financed her research herself I think the exploitation is there, just prettied up a bit with a lot of self congratulatory descriptions of how HARD she had to try to talk to the family and how MANY times she called asking for interviews At times I felt like she badgered them worse than the unethical people who had come before.The sadness of this story is really about the devastation of a family when its unifying force, a strong mother, is removed Piled on withsadness about the appalling institutional conditions for mentally handicapped patients talking about Henrietta Lacks oldest daughter back in the 50 s and you have tragedy on top oftragedy On October 4, 1951, Henrietta Lacks, a thirty one year old black woman, died after a gruesome battle with a rapidly metastasizing cancer During her treatment, the doctors at Johns Hopkins took some cells from her failing body and used them for research This was not an unusual thing to have done in 1951 But the cells that came from Ms Lacks body were unusual They had qualities that made them uniquely valuable as research tools Labeled HeLa , Henrietta s cells were reproduced by the billio On October 4, 1951, Henrietta Lacks, a thirty one year old black woman, died after a gruesome battle with a rapidly metastasizing cancer During her treatment, the doctors at Johns Hopkins took some cells from her failing body and used them for research This was not an unusual thing to have done in 1951 But the cells that came from Ms Lacks body were unusual They had qualities that made them uniquely valuable as research tools Labeled HeLa , Henrietta s cells were reproduced by the billions over the following sixty years and have been instrumental in experiments across a wide range of biological science Today, HeLa cells are sold by the vial at impressive prices Yet, Ms Lacks family has seen not a penny of compensation from the work that has been made possible by their relative s unique cells Rebecca Skloot from Powell sRebecca Skloot, a science writer with articles published in many major outlets, spent years looking into the genesis of these cells The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks tells four stories First is the tale of HeLa cells, and the value they have been to science second is the life of, arguably, the most important cell donor in history, and of her family third is a look at the ethics of cell donation and the commercial and legal significance of rights involved and fourth is the Visible Woman look at Skloot s pursuit of the tales Each story is significant The contribution of HeLa cells has been huge and it is important to know how these cells came to be so widely used, and what are the characteristics that make them so valuable Skloot goes into a reasonable level of detail for those of us who do not make our living in a lab coat She adds information on how cell cultures can become contaminated, and how that impacts completed research She also offers a description of telomeres, strings of DNA at the end of chromosomes critical to longevity, and key to the immortality of HeLa cells Fascinating stuff Henrietta Lacks From Science And FilmSkloot constructs a biography of Henrietta, and patches together a portrait of the life of her family, from her ancestors to her children, siblings and other relations It is with a source of pride, among other emotions, that her family regards Henrietta s impact on the world Skloot delves into these feelings, and the experiences the Lacks family members have had over the decades with people trying to write about Henrietta, and people trying to exploit their interest in Henrietta for dark purposes.The author had to overcome considerable family resistance before she was able to get them to meet with and ultimately open up to her She takes us through her process, showing who she talked with, when, and the result of those conversations, what institutions she contacted re locating and gaining access to information about Henrietta and some other family members Most interesting, and at times frustrating, is her story of how she gained the trust of some, if not all, of the Lacks family This is like presenting a how to of her research process, a blow by blow description of the way research is done in the real world, and it is very enlightening The Immortal Tale of Henrietta Lacks has received considerable acclaim It is all well deserved The book is an eye opening window into a piece of our history that is mostly unknown It presents science in a very manageable way and gives us plenty to think about the next time we have a blood test or any other medical procedure This book may not be as immortal as Henrietta s cells, but it will stay with you for a very long time.The HBO Film airs on April 22, 2017 EXTRA STUFF8 8 13 NY Times article A Family Consents to a Medical Gift, 62 Years Later3 29 17 Washington Post On the eve of an Oprah movie about Henrietta Lacks, an ugly feud consumes the family by Steve Hendrix She s the most important person in the world and her family living in poverty If our mother is so important to science, why can t we get health insuranceI ve moved this book on and off my TBR for years The truth is that, with few exceptions, I m generally turned off by the thought of non fiction I m a fan of fictional stories, and I think I ve always felt that non fiction will be dry, boring and difficult to get through Especially a book about science, cells and medicine when I m She s the most important person in the world and her family living in poverty If our mother is so important to science, why can t we get health insuranceI ve moved this book on and off my TBR for years The truth is that, with few exceptions, I m generally turned off by the thought of non fiction I m a fan of fictional stories, and I think I ve always felt that non fiction will be dry, boring and difficult to get through Especially a book about science, cells and medicine when I mof a humanities social sciences kinda girl.But this book it s just so interesting It s written in a very easy, journalistic style and places the author into the story some people didn t like this, but I thought it felt like you were going along for the journey It s all the interesting bits of science, full of eye opening and shocking discoveries, but it s also about history, sociology and race.I started reading The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks while sat next to my boyfriend Every so often I would unknowingly gasp or mutter oh my god and he was like what what and I hadn t even realized I d done it out loud It s just full of surprises and every one is true It uncovers things you almost certainly didn t know about And it just shows that sometimes real life can be nastier,shocking, andwondrous than anything you could imagine.Maybe you ve heard of HeLa in passing, maybe you don t know anything about these cells that helped in cancer research, in finding a polio vaccine, in cloning, in gene mapping and discovering the effects of an atom bomb either way, this tells an incredible and awful story of a poor, black woman in the American South who was diagnosed with cervical cancer She is given back her humanity, becomingthan a cluster of cells and being shown for the tough, spirited woman she was From her own family life to the frankly nauseating treatment of black patients in the 1950s, her story emerges.Not only that, but this book is about the injustices committed by the pharmaceutical industry both in this individual case how is it that Henrietta s family are dirt poor when she has revolutionized medicine and on a larger scale during the 1950s, many prisoners were injected with cancer as part of medical experiments It s hard to believe what so called professionals have gotten away with throughout history things that we generally associate with Nazi death camps.I honestly could not put it down Maybe because it s not just about science and cells, but is mainly about all of the humanity and social history behind scientific discoveries Maybe because Skloot is so damn passionate about her subject and that passion is transferred to the reader Whatever the reason, I highly recommend it.Blog Facebook Twitter Instagram Youtube Store This was a really good book that leaves one withquestions than it answers, especially at this moment with the explosion in investment and growth in health biotech A lot of those questions are ones I wouldn t know how to answer myself either I think it s really important though that we all start grappling with and instituting better processes around things like informed consent Also really horrible to think about this in larger societal terms, in the context of institutional racism, and This was a really good book that leaves one withquestions than it answers, especially at this moment with the explosion in investment and growth in health biotech A lot of those questions are ones I wouldn t know how to answer myself either I think it s really important though that we all start grappling with and instituting better processes around things like informed consent Also really horrible to think about this in larger societal terms, in the context of institutional racism, and the ways in which the Lacks family still is so socioeconomically disadvantaged while private biotechnology companies sell their mother s cells for so much money I just feel so extremely uncomfortable with that I think I wouldn t care so much if the cells were just part of the commons, available for free, or extremely cheaply, but to know people are profiting off of it, it really is quite disgusting I try not to bring my politics to bear here quite too often but this really really makes me feel strongly that commercialization of things in biological research, especially people s biological matter and tissue shouldn t be happening This whole situation just feels quite perverse honestly and the book left me feeling disheartened The dual dehumanization of the Lacks family through science and commercialization is horrifying And I think if we wants things to be better moving forward both need to be addressed, not just one Fascinating and Thought Provoking Strengths Fantastically interesting subject One woman s cancerous cells are multiplied and distributed around the globe enabling a new era of cellular research and fueling incredible advances in scientific methodology, technology, and medical treatments This strain of cells, named HeLa after Henrietta Lacks their originator , has been amazingly prolific and has become integrated into advancements of science around the world space travel, genome research, Fascinating and Thought Provoking Strengths Fantastically interesting subject One woman s cancerous cells are multiplied and distributed around the globe enabling a new era of cellular research and fueling incredible advances in scientific methodology, technology, and medical treatments This strain of cells, named HeLa after Henrietta Lacks their originator , has been amazingly prolific and has become integrated into advancements of science around the world space travel, genome research, pharmaceutical treatments, polio vaccination, etc Thought Provoking Ethical Questions This book makes you ponder ethical questions historically raised by the unfolding sequence of events and still rippling currently Ex 1 Informed consent Henrietta did not provide informed consent not required in those days Ex 2 Genetic rights non rights her family whose DNA also links to those cells did not learn of the implications of her tissue sample until years later Ex 3 Patents and profits for biologic material zero profits realized by Henrietta or her descendants multiple millions in profits have been realized by individuals and corporations utilizing her genetic material Biographical description of Henrietta and interviews with her family The biographical nature of the book ensures the reader does not separate the science and ethics from the family These are not abstract questions, impacts and implications We re reading about actual, valuable people and historic events Weaknesses Framework the book is framed around the author s journey of writing the story and her interactions with Henrietta s family I thought the author got in the way and would have preferred to have to read less of her journey andcoverage of the science involved and its ethical implications I found myself distinctly not caring how many times the author circled the block or how many trips she made to Henrietta s birthplace Lack of Clarity By mid point through the book, I was wishing the biographical approach wasrefined and focused The narrative swerved through the author s interest in various people as she encountered them along the way Henrietta, Henrietta s immediate family, scientists, Henrietta s extended family, a neighborhood grocery store owner, a con artist, Henrietta s youngest daughter, Henrietta s oldest daughter, etc Everything was a side dish no particular biography satisfied as a main course Bottom Line This book won t join my to re read shelfbut has whetted my appetite for further exploration of this important woman, fascinating topic and intriguing ethical questions.I was left wanting detail surrounding the science involved,coverage of past and present ethical implications arefined biography of Henrietta, and afocused look at the impact and implications of the HeLa cell strain line on Henrietta s descendants This is such an important story HeLa cells were a miracle to humanity and all thanks to Hernietta Lacks and the doctor.It is a must read. 4.5 stars A young black mother dies of cervical cancer in 1950 and unbeknownst to her becomes the impetus for many medical advances through the decades that follow because of the cancer cells that were taken without her permission This book evokes so many thoughts and feelings, sometimes at odds with one another It is thought provoking and informative in the details and heartbreaking in the rendering of the personal story of Henrietta Lacks I was madder than hell that people companies made l 4.5 stars A young black mother dies of cervical cancer in 1950 and unbeknownst to her becomes the impetus for many medical advances through the decades that follow because of the cancer cells that were taken without her permission This book evokes so many thoughts and feelings, sometimes at odds with one another It is thought provoking and informative in the details and heartbreaking in the rendering of the personal story of Henrietta Lacks I was madder than hell that people companies made loads of money on the Hela cell line while some members of the Lacks family didn t have health insurance Yet, I am grateful for the research advances that made a polio vaccine possible, advanced cancer research and genetics, and so much.Rebecca Skloot does a wonderful job of presenting the moral and legal questions of medical research without consent meshing this with the the human side giving a picture of the woman whose cells saved so many lives We get to know her family, especially her daughter Deborah who worked tirelessly with the author to discover what happened to her mother This made it all so real not just a recitation of the facts The scientific aspects are very detailed but understandable It was the sections on Henrietta and her family that I wanted to read the most.In 1950 there was no formal research oversight in the United States Years later there are laws on informed consent and how medical research is conducted, and protection of privacy for medical records Yet even today, there are controversies over the ownership of human tissue The in depth research over years in writing this book is evident and I believe a heartfelt effort to recognize Henrietta Lacks for her unwitting contribution to medical research This could have been an incredible book Henrietta Lacks story is finally told and Skloot makes very clear how important Lacks cells have been to the last 60 years of science and, paradoxically, how much Henrietta and her family suffered because those cells were taken from Henrietta without her consent But in her effort to contrast the importance and profitability of Henrietta s cells with the marginalization and impoverishment of Henrietta s family, Skloot makes three really big mistakes F This could have been an incredible book Henrietta Lacks story is finally told and Skloot makes very clear how important Lacks cells have been to the last 60 years of science and, paradoxically, how much Henrietta and her family suffered because those cells were taken from Henrietta without her consent But in her effort to contrast the importance and profitability of Henrietta s cells with the marginalization and impoverishment of Henrietta s family, Skloot makes three really big mistakes First, she s not transparent about her own journalistic ethics, which is troubling in a book about ethics Did the Lacks family end up benefiting from her book financially Did all Lacks give permission for their depictions in the book We never know Second, Skloot s narration when describing the Lacks family suffering sexual abuse, addiction, disability, mental illness lacks sensitivity it often feels clinical and sometimes even voyeuristic Again, this is disturbing in a book that concerns the importance of dignity, consent, etc.Finally, Skloot inserts herself into the story over and over, not so subtly suggesting that she is a hero for telling Henrietta s story Sometimes, it appears that she is making the very offensive suggestion that she, a highly educated unreligious white woman, has healed the Lacks family by showing them science and history This is an all gold five star read.It s actually two stories, the story of the HeLa cells and the story of the Lacks family told by a journalist who writes the first story objectively and the second, in which she is involved, subjectively The contrast between the poor Lacks family who cannot afford their medical bills and the research establishment who have made millions, maybe billions from these cells is ironic and tragic It has been established by other law cases that if the family had gone This is an all gold five star read.It s actually two stories, the story of the HeLa cells and the story of the Lacks family told by a journalist who writes the first story objectively and the second, in which she is involved, subjectively The contrast between the poor Lacks family who cannot afford their medical bills and the research establishment who have made millions, maybe billions from these cells is ironic and tragic It has been established by other law cases that if the family had gone for restitution they would not have got it, but that s a moot point as they couldn t afford a lawyer in any case I have seen some bad reviews about this book People who think that the story of the Lacks poor rural African Americans who never made it up from slavery and whose lifestyle of decent working class folk that also involves incest, adultery, disease and crime, they just dismiss with heard it all before and my family despite all obstacles succeeded so what is wrong with the Lacks I wonder if these people who not only totally can t see the wonderful writing that brings these people to life and who so lack in compassion themselves are the sort of people who oppose health care for the masses As an extremely wealthy American tourist once put it to me, he had earned good health care by his hard work and success in life, it was one of the perks, why waste good money on, say, a a triple bypass on someone who hasn t even succeeded enough to afford health insurance That they were a drain on society, non contributors and not the way America needed to go to move forward.I don t think you can rate people by what they have achieved materially Success depends a great deal on opportunity and many don t have that Henrietta Lacks didn t have it and her children didn t have it, not even her grandchildren made much of a way for themselves, but the next generation, the great grandchildren ah now they are going in for Masters degrees and maybe their children will be major contributors The author intends to recompense the family by setting up a scholarship for at least one of them All of us came originally from poverty and to put down those that are still mired in the quicksand of never having enough spare cash to finance an education is cruel, uncompassionate and hardly looking to the future.HeLa cells have given us our future They are the most researched and tested human cells in existence All of us have benefited from the medical advances made using them and the book is recognition of what a great contribution Henrietta Lacks and her family with all their donations of tissue and blood, mostly stolen from them under false pretences, have made Indeed one of the researchers who looks like having told a lot of lies and then lied about that in order to get the family to donate blood to further her research is still trying to get them to donateShe s a hard nosed scientist, with an excellent job and income and to her the Lacks are nothan providers of raw material Sometimes you can t make hard and fast rulings No I don t think we should have to give informed consent for experiments to be done on tissue or blood donated during a procedure or childbirth that would slow medical research unbearably I don t think cells should be identifiable with the donor either, it should be quite anonymous as it now is However, there is only ever one first in any sphere and that one does deserve recognition and now with the book, some 50 years after her life ended, Henrietta Lacks has it Good on yer, Rebecca Skloot, you ve done a good thing here `EPUB ⇮ The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks ⇝ Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa She was a poor Southern tobacco farmer who worked the same land as her slave ancestors, yet her cells taken without her knowledge became one of the most important tools in medicine The first immortal human cells grown in culture, they are still alive today, though she has been dead for than sixty years If you could pile all HeLa cells ever grown onto a scale, they d weigh thanmillion metric tons as much as a hundred Empire State Buildings HeLa cells were vital for developing the polio vaccine uncovered secrets of cancer, viruses, and the atom bomb s effects helped lead to important advances like in vitro fertilization, cloning, and gene mapping and have been bought and sold by the billionsYet Henrietta Lacks remains virtually unknown, buried in an unmarked graveNow Rebecca Skloot takes us on an extraordinary journey, from the colored ward of Johns Hopkins Hospital in the s to stark white laboratories with freezers full of HeLa cells from Henrietta s small, dying hometown of Clover, Virginia a land of wooden slave quarters, faith healings, and voodoo to East Balti today, where her children and grandchildren live and struggle with the legacy of her cellsHenrietta s family did not learn of her immortality until than twenty years after her death, when scientists investigating HeLa began using her husband and children in research without informed consent And though the cells had launched a multimillion dollar industry that sells human biological materials, her family never saw any of the profits As Rebecca Skloot so brilliantly shows, the story of the Lacks family past and present is inextricably connected to the dark history of experimentation on African Americans, the birth of bioethics, and the legal battles over whether we control the stuff we are made ofOver the decade it took to uncover this story, Rebecca became enmeshed in the lives of the Lacks family especially Henrietta s daughter Deborah, who was devastated to learn about her mother s cells She was consumed with questions Had scientists cloned her mother Did it hurt her when researchers infected her cells with viruses and shot them into space What happened to her sister, Elsie, who died in a mental institution at the age of fifteen And if her mother was so important to medicine, why couldn t her children afford health insurance Intimate in feeling, astonishing in scope, and impossible to put down, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks captures the beauty and drama of scientific discovery, as well as its human consequences