The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

eBook - 2010
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Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. She was a poor Southern tobacco farmer, 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 more than sixty years. HeLa cells were vital for developing the polio vaccine; uncovered secrets of cancer and viruses; helped lead to in vitro fertilization, cloning, and gene mapping; and have been bought and sold by the billions. Yet Henrietta Lacks is buried in an unmarked grave. Her family did not learn of her "immortality" until more than twenty years after her death, when scientists began using her husband and children in research without informed consent. The story of the Lacks family 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 of--From publisher description.
Publisher: New York : Crown Publishers, c2010
ISBN: 9780307589385
Characteristics: 1 online resource (x, 369 p.)


From Library Staff

True life account of the first live stem cells that survived and was able to be shared among research scientists, without the knowledge of the family.

A tribute to the woman who unwittingly donated her cells to medical research and in doing so gave birth to an explosion in scientific discovery. Science journalism at its best, this novel is a detective story about the interplay between medicine and ethics. Also available on DVD.

Science journalism at its best, this novel is a detective story about the interplay between medicine and ethics. Also available on DVD.

A tribute to the woman who unwittingly donated her cells to medical research and in doing so gave birth to an explosion in scientific discovery.

Science journalism at its best, this novel is a detective story about the interplay between medicine and ethics.

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Mar 04, 2018

I watched the dvd with Oprah Winfrey as Deborah. I do not like Oprah as an actor. I am sorry I watched the dvd it certainly spoiled the book for me.

Dec 27, 2017

"Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks" the true story of a woman whose cells literally have reproduced themselves for more than 5 decades in medical labs around the world! Human cells die after so much time outside the body. The cells are used in cancer experiments, or HIV cure testing, or genenic disorders tests, but none live on past a certain testing date. Only one set of human cells have ever reproduced themselves and lived passed their experation date those cells are famous and they all belong to one woman, Henrietta Lacks! Born in Baltimore where her family discovers that their sister lives on in millions of people today.

The book featured photographs and family stories about the Lacks and some element of a biographical element but was marred by the blatant racism of the times and the medical industries use of individual's bio-cellular materials without consent, or compensation to desendents, even though millions of dollars have been made from the sale of Henrietta's cells.
The story is told by a lab assistant with a guilty conscience and brothers and sisters of Henrietta Lacks who dies of cancer while experimentation discoveries are made by utilization of these undead cells, which are, (hence the name) immortal! Unbelivable that science in the medical field has made such great advancements during this Era without paying any attention to the family of the cells creators. Not a good look America! But without this book who would have known about these increditable scientific discoveries was all on account of these cells that never die.

Not a bad storyline. While reading I hope for the best, but since it was a true story and in America and the people concerned were Black, well there went any hope for a happy ending. Most of the story was tough to read and leaves the reader frustrated. But immortal cells, come on this is a miracle! We all must see how this is impossible, but it's real....

I'm still recommending this book! The group was divided on their support versus their anger at the Medical Profession in 1960's America!

Ghettostone Editor/Chief

Sep 20, 2017

learned a lot
and got caught by topic

Aug 04, 2017

I really enjoyed this book, wanting to learn more after I watched the movie of the same name. The book gave a little more understanding of the mental state of Deborah, and a more in-depth look at what happened to her siblings, sons, and Henrietta's doctors in later years.

SCL_Toby Jul 22, 2017

This a very approachable book about medical and research ethics and race relations. Skloot's writing skills keep the reader engaged and she explains the science end of the story clearly. Henrietta Lacks' story is very interesting, and at times heartbreaking. Skloot addresses both the issues of race and medical and science ethics deftly, exploring the balance between the need for timely, well-done research and the need for patient privacy, information, and well-being. An excellent read.

Jun 18, 2017

Great read.

Jun 11, 2017

Fascinating story about Henrietta Lacks and how her cancer cells were acquired by John Hopkins and then proceeded to multiply all over the world and even in space.

Skloot spent considerable time working patiently with Henrietta's family and does an excellent job of explaining the science behind the story. She also thoroughly tackles the thorny issues of the informed consent and profitmaking surrounding the tissue and blood samples that are used in laboratories all over the world.

AL_HOLLYR May 14, 2017

Skloot's book is a magnificent fusion of science, history, and brilliant storytelling. She is especially skilled at explaining scientific concepts in an accessible and engaging manner. Her rendering of Lacks' story reveals a deeply troubling history of racism, discrimination, and poverty in the U.S. Highly recommended for anyone who likes narrative nonfiction or fiction readers interested in trying a nonfiction title.

Cynthia_N May 11, 2017

I wanted to read this before watching the movie and I'm so glad I did. The story of how Henrietta's cancer was treated was horrifying and it was the standard treatment of the day! You empathize with the family who didn't really understand what was happening to their loved ones cells (once they found out, that is).

May 02, 2017

This true story which has affected all our lives deserves to be read. The HBO version does not tell 1/100th of the story or even some of the most important parts of the story.

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Jun 17, 2015

True story of stolen body pieces of Everywoman Henrietta Lacks. Story readable despite presence of a great deal of science. Adult children search for their mother over years bearing up remarkably in face of medical-science establishment. Exceptional. Highly recommended.

Algonquin_Lisa Feb 24, 2011

A black woman's self-perpetuating cancer cells live past her own shortened life, providing doctors and scientists with an unparalleled opportunity to do nearly unlimited research. Her family, however, was unaware her cells were ever collected. In this book author Rebecca Skloot takes them on a journey to learn the extent to which their mother's cells changed the face of cancer research forever. Fascinating, and possibly the best work of nonfiction I've ever read.


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BookWormChelly Jul 08, 2013

“But I tell you one thing, I don't want to be immortal if it mean living forever, cause then everybody else just die and get old in front of you while you stay the same, and that's just sad.”

mrsgail5756 Apr 03, 2013

“If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.” -George Washington

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Mar 11, 2016

CarolJ33 thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over


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