‘Henrietta Lacks’: a Donor’s Immortal Legacy
The book “Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” is a true book of her life experience written by American writer Rebecca Skloot. The book examines Henrietta Lacks, a poor tobacco rancher from the Southern US, whose cervical disease cells were gathered in 1951. Henrietta never knew that she was being so generous .Without her understanding or consent or any monetary pay, these cells were utilized to make an immortal cell line known as HeLa that researchers are utilizing right up ’til the present time in medical research. The family was unaware of the experiment being performed . While HeLa cells develop into a multi-million dollar business, individuals in the Lacks family never profited from Henrietta’s cells .HeLa cells were basic in the advancement of the polio antibody, Gene mapping, comprehension of the human chromosome, and the initial moves toward organ transplant, in-vitro preparation systems, and medicines for malignant growth. The book investigates complex issues on unethical scientific experiments and racism.
Based on the patient autonomy principle the removal of cervical cancer cells from Henrietta lacks cervix is not ethically sound because scientist and doctors never received an informed consent for the cells to be used in research. Lying should not be entered into lightly as it interferes directly with a patient’s autonomy where as in the case of Henrietta she was under the impression that she was being cured for cancer. Also she was uneducated and never received counseling nor provided enough information to make an informed decision of the risks involved. All of this impacts the family so that they can be involved in the decision making process. Henrietta never gave consent to yes or no to how the cells from her tumor cells were being used. It is a duty for health care professions to have a fiduciary relationship with their patients with regard to information.
Ethically it was wrong the benefits outweighed receiving an informed consent from her. HeLa cells changed medical science and the treatment for cancer. From her cells came all these different creations and miracles such as, medical breakthroughs, research on the effects of zero gravity in outer space, development of polio vaccine, study of leukemia, aids, Parkinson’s disease, influenza, cloning , and cancer worldwide and countless other scientific experiments. They were also the first cells used to determine that humans have 23 pair of chromosomes. The research was conducted for the common good.