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Monday, April 21, 2014

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

This biography was fascinating. This woman's cells were the first to be successfully cultured. They were taken without her knowledge while she was undergoing a test at the hospital. After her death, they have contributed to countless scientific advances including the cure for polio. Hela cells would become a staple of all labs and yet, no one knew who Hela was. Meanwhile, her family received no compensation or recognition for her contribution to science, and was not properly informed until much later. Her daughter, tormented by the story her entire life, passed away in her fifties, shortly before the book was released. It's definitely worth reading, if only to honour this lady whose cells accelerated the advancement of medicine without even trying.

Also interesting were the legal intricacies. It was not legal to take tissues from a dead body without the family's consent, but it was legal to do so from a living human being. Lawsuits against the hospital failed because the jury deemed it more important to protect the advancement of science.

You can purchase this book on iBooksAmazonkobo.
If your library is a member of Overdrive, you can rent it for free on the Overdrive app. I rented the audiobook for free. Ask your library!

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