Tuesday, 22 March 2011

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

I bet you didn't know that the first immortal human cell line ever produced in the world, that proceeded to become one of the most important tools in medicine, originated from the cells of a poor black woman from Virginia named Henrietta Lacks. Her cells led to major breakthroughs in everything from cloning, gene mapping, in viro fertilization, Parkinsons disease, leukemia, polio and haemophilia. And yet up to the year 2009 her body was left in an unmarked grave, her name ,contribution and history hidden. It is another one of those racist,awful injustices that many people aren't aware of.

Her cells were taken without her permisson, her family never informed until recently. They were completely unaware that her cells helped saved thousands of lives and still do till this day. The medical profession made a fortune through her, of course Henrietta never made a dime. Thank goodness science journalist Rebecca Skloot who became fascinated with Henrietta's story over ten years ago has brought it to the forefront. Her book The Immortal Life Of Henrietta Lacks is out now. I'm absorbed in it and it's a fascinating, hearbreaking read.

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