The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

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Paperback, Random House Inc, 2011, ISBN13 9781400052189, ISBN10 1400052181
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About this item

Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. She was a poor Southern tobacco farmer who worked the same land as her slave ancestors, 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. If you could pile all HeLa cells ever grown onto a scale, they'd weigh more than 50 million metric tons-as much as a hundred Empire State Buildings. HeLa cells were vital for developing the polio vaccine; uncovered secrets of cancer, viruses, and the atom bomb's effects; helped lead to important advances like in vitro fertilization, cloning, and gene mapping; and have been bought and sold by the billions. Yet Henrietta Lacks remains virtually unknown, buried in an unmarked grave. Now Rebecca Skloot takes us on an extraordinary journey, from the "colored" ward of Johns Hopkins Hospital in the 1950s to stark white laboratories with freezers full of HeLa cells; from Henrietta's small, dying hometown of Clover, Virginia-a land of wooden slave quarters, faith healings, and voodoo-to East Baltimore today, where her children and grandchildren live and struggle with the legacy of her cells. Henrietta's family did not learn of her "immortality" until more than twenty years after her death, when scientists investigating HeLa began using her husband and children in research without informed consent. And though the cells had launched a multimillion-dollar industry that sells human biological materials, her family never saw any of the profits. As Rebecca Skloot so brilliantly shows, the story of the Lacks family-past and present-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. Over the decade it took to uncover this story, Rebecca became enmeshed

About this item

Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. She was a poor Southern tobacco farmer who worked the same land as her slave ancestors, 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. If you could pile all HeLa cells ever grown onto a scale, they'd weigh more than 50 million metric tons-as much as a hundred Empire State Buildings. HeLa cells were vital for developing the polio vaccine; uncovered secrets of cancer, viruses, and the atom bomb's effects; helped lead to important advances like in vitro fertilization, cloning, and gene mapping; and have been bought and sold by the billions. Yet Henrietta Lacks remains virtually unknown, buried in an unmarked grave. Now Rebecca Skloot takes us on an extraordinary journey, from the "colored" ward of Johns Hopkins Hospital in the 1950s to stark white laboratories with freezers full of HeLa cells; from Henrietta's small, dying hometown of Clover, Virginia-a land of wooden slave quarters, faith healings, and voodoo-to East Baltimore today, where her children and grandchildren live and struggle with the legacy of her cells. Henrietta's family did not learn of her "immortality" until more than twenty years after her death, when scientists investigating HeLa began using her husband and children in research without informed consent. And though the cells had launched a multimillion-dollar industry that sells human biological materials, her family never saw any of the profits. As Rebecca Skloot so brilliantly shows, the story of the Lacks family-past and present-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. Over the decade it took to uncover this story, Rebecca became enmeshed

Specifications

Publisher: Random House Inc
Publish Date: Mar 2011
ISBN-13: 9781400052189
ISBN-10: 1400052181
Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 381
Shipping Weight (in pounds): 0.95
Product in Inches (L x W x H): 5.25 x 8.0 x 1.25
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9/6/2011

Customer review by sweetpixie

5.0 stars 9/6/2011 by sweetpixie
by sweetpixie

Great book! Didn't think so by the cover but I can't keep my eyes out of it.

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The Immortal life of Henrietta Lack
6/17/2015

Customer review by maxie

5.0 stars 6/17/2015 by maxie
by maxie

I thought it was a sad story, funny . Henrietta was a very strong minded woman and it carried her through all her trials. She left a wonderful legacy for her children, to stand your ground, take care of your children. I felt bad for the way she was used as a (guinea pig) . She gave the rest to the world as well. We will be ever grateful, I"m just so sad that she suffered so much. The author must have done a lot of research and I loved the fact she that spent a lot of time with Henrietta and helped her through a lot of what she to go through.

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