Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
Title: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
Author: Rebecca Skloot
Published: 2010
Call #: 616.02774/Skl

This is the story of Henrietta Lacks, her "immortal cells," medicine, science and family.  Henrietta was a poor farmer who developed cancer and sought treatment at Johns Hopkins Hospital.  During her treatment, some of her cancer and normal cells were harvested and kept for research, without her consent. Henrietta died from the cancer, but her cells remained alive and still do to this day.  They have been instrumental in the making of the polio vaccine and other medical advances.  Initially, researchers shared the cells freely in order to continue their valuable research, but soon they began to profit financially from the cells.  At the same time, those Henrietta left behind had no idea that her cells had been harvested and that billions of dollars had been made from them--all while her own family could not afford medical care for themselves.  It is the family's story that is the most compelling.  Skloot spent a year researching the story and speaking with the family.  She explains the science behind Henrietta's remarkable cells very clearly.   The book was recently made into a movie starring Oprah Winfrey and is available for checkout in our DVD collection.