The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks is a book by Rebecca Skloot that was published in early 2010. The book is a part biography and part family history of Henrietta Lacks. Skloot herself is a science journalist who became intrigued by the name of Henrietta when she was in college. Her book is the quest for this unknown woman who by her immortal cells has contributed to the world of bio-medical research in the scientific community. The book is a telling story of the incredible Henrietta Lacks who died at the age of thirty one due to cancerous tumor in her cervix. The book contains many remarkable quotes from family members and relatives and novel like narration from a passionate journalist.

In the book, Skloot introduces the readers to Henrietta Lacks who was a mother of five living in Baltimore when she was admitted to the hospital to remove her tumor. This was in 1951 when not much was known about cancer and its treatments; as a result she died young. She was buried without a headstone and till date her family is not sure of her exact burial place. It was in the 1970s when the Lacks got calls from researchers from all over the place asking for a blood sample to see if there was something remarkable in their genes. This invoked them to explore more about Henrietta and they found out that her cancerous cells had been given to a researcher. The researcher figured that the cells had a quality of staying alive and multiplying which is uncommon. Therefore Henrietta’s cells were shipped around the world and produced for many other researches. Her cells have been named HeLa cells in the medical research community.
The books talks about this history and also points out the sad fact that when HeLa cells have done incredible work around the world the family of Lacks are deprived of medical insurance. Many researchers have got million dollars grant and stipends for their work with HeLa cells but her family suffers from perennial poverty. Through The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, Rebecca Skloot has made a case for this family. They are the immediate descendants of Lacks and they deserve a share of the nobility of HeLa cells. It is not only the case of patent right but also immoral of the researchers to use a deceased cells without informing the living members of the family.

Though this book is a part history and biography it is narrated like a novel. Therefore for anyone who is willing to learn more about this intriguing case of immortal cells and the unrecognized woman the book is a boon.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *