This week in class we learned about how one women shaped the medical world without even knowing it. We learned about a woman named Henrietta Lacks who ended up giving us her cells, called The Hela Cells.
For anyone who isn’t familiar with Hela Cells, they are cells that are a type of an immortal line used in scientific research. It is the oldest and most commonly used human cell line. Even today you can buy Hela cells online from Amazon they are so mass produced and important.
Henrietta Lacks in my opinion could be considered the first woman who truly is immortal. She passed away a poor African-American who was diagnosed with a cancerous tumor that would eventually become her demise. Though a doctor by the name of Otto Gey cultured her cells to create the first known human immortal cell line for medical research.
But the sad part about this story was the fact that even descendants of her today and close family do not get any credit for her claim to history. They do not see any type of money or fame for her cells. The family today still lives in poverty and struggles with health issues. How could a government do that? Not only did Gey take her cells without her knowledge or permission but they act as if it was alright and legal.
Today even if you want to donate blood or have to get blood drawn for any type of circumstance, you have to sign a waiver stating that you are alright with your sample potentially being used in medical research. If you don’t condone to the waiver then they are required to destroy your sample.
In my opinion I feel that doctor Gey should have never cultured Henrietta’s cells without her permission or knowledge. Though on the other hand if he did not culture her cells then we would be set back in the medical world by far too many years. I feel besides the good coming out for the public with Henrietta’s cells, her family should have been somewhat rewarded. So that’s the question that can go on for debate. Even if it can save the public without knowledge or permission from the patient, is it ethical to proceed?