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The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

Skloot, Rebecca (eBook - 2010 )
Average Rating: 4 stars out of 5.
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks


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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.
Authors: Skloot, Rebecca, 1972-
Title: The immortal life of Henrietta Lacks
[electronic resource]
Publisher: New York :, Crown Publishers,, c2010.
Characteristics: 1 online resource (x, 369 p.)
Notes: Title from eBook information screen.
Contents: Life. The exam ... 1951 ; Clover ... 1920-1942 ; Diagnosis and treatment ... 1951 ; The birth of HeLa ... 1951 ; "Blackness be spreadin all inside ... 1951 ; "Lady's on the phone" ... 1999 ; The death and life of cell culture ... 1951 ; "A miserable specimen ... 1951 ; Turner Station ... 1999 ; The other side of the tracks ... 1999 ; "The devil of pain itself" ... 1951
Death. The storm ... 1951 ; The HeLa factory ... 1951-1953 ; Helen Lane ... 1953-1954 ; "Too young to remember" ... 1951-1965 ; "Spending eternity in the same place" ... 1999 ; Illegal, immoral, and deplorable ... 1954-1966 ; "Strangest hybrid" ... 1960-1966 ; "The most critical time on this earth is now" ... 1966-1973 ; The HeLa bomb ... 1966 ; Night doctors ... 2000 ; "The fame she so richly deserves" ... 1970-1973
Immortality. "It's alive" ... 1973-1974 ; "Least they can do" ... 1975 ; "Who told you you could sell my spleen?" ... 1976-1988 ; Breach of privacy ... 1980-1985 ; The secret of immortality ... 1984-1995 ; After London ... 1996-1999 ; A village of Henriettas ... 2000 ; Zakariyya ... 2000 ; Hela, goddess of death ... 2000-2001 ; "All that's my mother" ... 2001 ; The hospital for the Negro insane ... 2001 ; The medical records ... 2001 ; Soul cleansing ... 2001 ; Heavenly bodies ... 2001 ; "Nothing to be scared about" ... 2001 ; The long road to Clover ... 2009
Where they are now.
Summary: 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.
Local Note: 23
ISBN: 9780307589385
0307589382
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Report This Mar 08, 2014
  • ehbooklover rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

An eye opening, enlightening, and often heartbreaking read that raises many important questions about scientific research, ethics, race, and class. Unfortunately, the first half of the book was a great deal more interesting than the second half and this unevenness kept me from really loving it.

Report This Feb 27, 2014
  • MissEavis rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Wow! What a book, an excellent blend of story and science. I picked up this book for the story of Henrietta and her family. The author included herself in the book, and her bumpy journey to collect information about the family. One of the best books I've had the pleasure of reading :-)

Report This Dec 29, 2013
  • Shelbi27 rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Loved this book. It was the perfect blend of science information (which I normally get bored of quickly) and biography. Hard to put down.

Report This Dec 14, 2013
  • bibliotechnocrat rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

In 1951, a poor African-American tobacco farmer from Virginia named Henrietta Lacks died of cervical cancer. In the course of her treatment, a biopsy of the tumour was taken and cells cultured - something that had not yet been successfully achieved. These cells were then commercially produced in the trillions and used in the development of the Polio vaccine, cancer drugs, cosmetics, AIDS research, radiation studies, and on and on. Henrietta Lacks never knew her cells had been taken, and when her family found out twenty years later, they were astonished and horrified. Billions of dollars spun off from the cells and her family could not afford health insurance. The ethical issues raised in this disturbing book are punctuated by the astounding arrogance of some of the researchers. In one case, cancer cells were injected into hundreds of patients without their knowledge or consent to see if they could fight off Henrietta's virulent strain of cancer. Most disturbing is the torture and murder of Henrietta's youngest daughter, institutionalized with a diagnosis or 'idiocy' but likely only suffering from deafness. Like a car wreck, this book is hard to turn away from, and it will stay with you long after you've put it down.

Report This Oct 31, 2013
  • lizapierce rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Beautifully written. Important in so many ways. A science related book that was difficult for my non- science brain to stop thinking about.

Report This Sep 13, 2013
  • stevie22 rated this: 1 stars out of 5.

I had to check this book out three times and slog my way through it. It was disappointing and not what the reviews made it out to be. The back and forth dialogue between the medical and the familial was confusing and distracting. It was interesting to be reminded of the cost of using humans in research and especially notable that 3 doctors refused to participate citing the projects similarity to acts committed in the Holocaust. The author wrote in a judgemental way that often depicted the family in a culturally insensitive light i.e. they wanted money, they were druggies, they were in jail, etc. And I still wonder, did the author give the family royalties for the book or set up a fund like she indicated she would in the story? Her efforts while appreciated fell short of my expectations.

Report This Aug 13, 2013
  • anton1492 rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

It was a book more about her family then about Henrietta Lacks. A very sad story

Report This Jul 08, 2013
  • BookWormChelly rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

This book is amazing. It really touches your heart and soul. I don't think anyone had an experience like Henrietta Lacks did.

Report This Jun 17, 2013
  • blue_cheetah_36560496 rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Great book of family and medical history and a dying town. I will read it again

Report This May 31, 2013
  • WVMLStaffPicks rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

A remarkable work of non-fiction that reads like a novel—it is a ten-year detective story that reveals the fascinating story of a poor African American woman who made one of the most significant contributions to medical science, and the effect it had on her family. It also calls into question ethics and our rights as human beings.

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Report This Feb 24, 2011
  • Algonquin_Lisa rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

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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Report This Jul 08, 2013
  • BookWormChelly rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

“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.”

Report This Apr 03, 2013
  • mrsgail5756 rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

“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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Report This Mar 25, 2014
  • EricaReynoldsNYC rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Scientist David Spector Presenting on HeLa Cells

Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Scientist David Spector Presenting on HeLa Cells

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks book trailer

Commentary by the author shows just how passionate she was to bring this story out to the world; it's no wonder it made so many "best books" lists in 2010.

Find it at CLEVNET

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