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Hopkins Response to "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks"

veritatemdilexi's picture

 This is my first successful hyperlink, I hope.  This article was published in June 2010 as a response to the book "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks", and details how Johns Hopkins now deals with tissue culture and provides some background on how physicians and medical researchers navigate patient confidentiality while still pursuing medical research. 



maht91's picture

 I really liked the last

 I really liked the last sentence of the article, I think it captures that the people place a great deal of trust in scientists and medical staff. Patients come to doctors during their worst days and give them the permission to treat them. The patient expects to find a place of comfort and trust when they visit a doctor. This on one hand, is the humanitarian aspect. However, the article also brings up much accurate information that no one knows for what other research might a tissue taken 10 years ago be used for. It is true that people have rights that need to be acknowledged, but when scientists are doing research, they don't particularly have the time to track down where the tissue has been taken from to ask for permission to use. Scientists have to worry about the bigger picture of researching for the greater good of people. Should the doctors and researchers have told Henrietta that they are going to take her cells? From a moral stand point, I think that they should have told her. But the article also says that people don't want to be asked for permission to use their cells when they are about to do surgery for instance. In Henrietta's case, the doctors could  not have known that her cells would be a success in the present and future. Initially, they did not know that, but after they knew about the success of the cells, I think it was their responsibility to address that and tell Henrietta or her family about it. It is imperative to take into account, as the article says, that the time was different. I wonder though, how the life of Henrietta Lacks would have been different if the doctors and researchers have told her or her family about using the cells for research. I also wonder if another patient would have gotten the same attention if his/her cells were used for research, because the only reason that the discussion about the right of patients came about is when Henrietta's family heard about the widespread use of Henrietta's cells. If Henrietta's family did not bring about the cells of their mother/wife, the research would have gone as if nothing wrong or immoral happened.

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