Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Immortal HeLa Cells...

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
I shy away from a lot of non-fiction. But this book is so good, you would swear it was a novel that doesn’t let go till you reach the last page! HeLa cells helped create the polio vaccine, cancer medicines and treatments, in vitro fertilization and the list goes on. Chances are you have probably used a medication that was tested on HeLa cells. Except that HeLa cells came from a person, Henrietta Lacks, who was never recognized until this book for her important contribution to science. Henrietta was a poor Black Southern woman who developed cervical cancer. Her cells were taken from her without permission. They were the first cell line to be grown in culture and are still alive today, in fact they have been bought and sold by the billions. And the sad part is, her family still can not afford health care in the US. They were never educated on her cells or what any of this meant until recently. Or compensated for the sale of them! This is a spellbinding book of medical injustice and human consequences. A must read! - Bronwyn


Anonymous said...

The National Public Radio show "Science Friday" had an excellent interview with the author, Rebecca Skloot sometime in February, available as a podcast.


Chanda @ Disordered Cosmos said...

A little pop culture connection: Law & Order recently did an episode that was based on this story. It's season 20, episode 21, entitled "Immortal."

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