Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

I finished readingRebecca Sloot's The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks over Easter break.  It was Dayton's "Big Read"; however, I finished the book about two weeks after all of the events were over.  This book was a fascinating read.
In short, this non-fiction is a biography of sorts about Henrietta Lacks--a Baltimore woman who died in the early 50's of cervical cancer.   Before her death, a doctor harvested some of her cells which later became the first cells to remain alive, grow, and reproduce.  These cells (called HeLa--I had never heard that term before, but it means something to science-minded people) have been used in research to develop cures and treatments to hundreds of diseases.  Henrietta died poor; her surviving children could barely affort their own health care even in their adult years.

This book raises so many questions and topics surrounding the good of science, patient consent, experimental practices, HIPA laws, HPV virus, research for profit, health care, etc.  I highly recommend this book if you are looking for something not-too-difficult nor too long, but thought-provoking.

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