Menu

The Immortal Life Of Henrietta Lacks ( summary of part 2 of the book)

0 Comment

Due to the fact that at its peak around 20,000 test tubes a week were being produced at Tuskeegee, it was at this juncture that the idea of personhood began to be diminished within the eyes of the researchers. HeLa became less and less of a person and more of a resource and a medical material rather than evidence of an original human being that gave rise to such cells. As with previous chapters within the book, the author runs between analyzing the medical research that is being carried out on the still living cells of Henrietta while contrasting this with the life that her children and family she left behind experienced. Although the medical experimentation was continuing and advancing, Henrietta’s family was experiencing trauma as a direct result of the lack of a mother. The children bounced from one location to the next, at one location the 2 year old girl was sexually abused, until they finally were reunited with Bobette and moved in with her. The author juxtaposes this personal story with the fact that HeLa was beginning to experience a great deal of discussion in the media of that time as news articles began to be published. Due to the fact that doctor-patient confidentiality was becoming an issue at the time, the patient was merely referred to in the news stories as Helen L. The author further uses this personal commentary to discuss the grave site of Henrietta. She juxtaposes the fact that the tomb itself is unmarked with the fact that the only remainder of Henrietta still in this world is her children and the cells which have continued to be kept, monitored, and multiplied. Chapters 18 and 19 tell the dual stories of trouble that the scientists faced with contaminated cell lines and the personal problems that Henrietta’s children were experiencing. no doubt as a function of her early passing (Skloot 129). Firstly, the medical experiments revealed that at some point, some of the cells in question had been contaminated with other lines. this meant that the rigor of the research was called into question and the researchers must go back and trace the mutations as a function of this contamination. Furthermore, the author juxtaposes these research issues with the fact that Henrietta’s children began to experience major issues of their own. The book proceeds to tell the story of the way in which HeLa’s cells have been found in 18 cell lines that have been used for cancer research. This revelation is juxtaposed with the personal story of Rebecca’s meeting with the Lacks family in early 2000. As she discusses the result of the experiments and the way in which HeLa’s cells have been used, the Lacks family is angry. First they are angry at the fact that Henrietta’s cells have been taken according to them without her consent and second they are angry due to the fact that they believe a great deal of money has been made on the sale of her cells. As such, the family demands a share of that money. The darker side of humanity is herein presented as the medical advancement that has been made possible through the use of Henrietta’s cells is broken down as a function of its money making potential to the surviving family members. The analysis continues to depict a family that is not only interested in the overall privacy of their family but also worried by the fact that they