THE IMMORTAL LIFE OF HENRIETTA LACKS

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THIS STORY IS AN UNFORTUNATE TALE ABOUT HENRIETTA LACKS WHOSE CANCER CELLS WERE COLLECTED WITHOUT HER KNOWLEDGE AND USED IN SCIENCE FOR CENTURIES.  INITIALLY THE CELLS, WHICH MULTIPLIED RAPIDLY, WERE JUST GIVEN TO RESEARCHERS BUT AS A DEMAND FOR THE CELLS GREW, SPECIAL “WAREHOUSES” BEGAN TO HARVEST AND SELL THE CELLS KNOW AS HELA CELLS.  HENRIETTA AND HER FAMILY SHOULD HAVE RICH AND FAMOUS BUT THEY NEVER RECEIVED A DIME AND NO ONE REALLY KNEW OF HER UNTIL MANY YEARS AFTER HER DEATH.  I ENJOYED THE STORY BUT ABOUT HALF OF THE BOOK WAS ABOUT THE SCIENCE WHICH WAS VERY TECHNICAL EVEN FOR SOMEONE WITH A SCIENCE  BACKGROUND LIKE MYSELF.  IT SEEMED AT TIMES I WAS READING A NONFICTION BOOK.  YOU CAN ENJOY THE STORY AND SKIM OVER THE TECHNICAL PARTS!

PUBLISHER’S EXCERPT:

Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. She was a poor black tobacco farmer whose cells—taken without her knowledge in 1951—became one of the most important tools in medicine, vital for developing the polio vaccine, cloning, gene mapping, and more. Henrietta’s cells have been bought and sold by the billions, yet she remains virtually unknown, and her family can’t afford health insurance. This phenomenal New York Times bestseller tells a riveting story of the collision between ethics, race, and medicine; of scientific discovery and faith healing; and of a daughter consumed with questions about the mother she never knew.

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