Essay on Henrietta Lacks Analysis

Submitted By Elizabeth-Oh
Words: 749
Pages: 3

March 23, 2014

Henrietta Lacks – Moving Passage
“Only thing he knew for sure, he said, was that there was something beautiful about the idea of slave owning white Lackses being buried under their black kin.” (Skloot 123)
In chapter sixteen of the book The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, the author Rebecca Skloot converses with Henrietta’s good cousin as she visits Henrietta’s grave. She learns that the Lacks family was originally from a slaveholding white family, and that the black portion of the family was badly discriminated. However, in the cemetery where Henrietta lies, the two sides of the family lay side by side and even on top of each other. Rebecca finds it humorous that most of the black portion of the family rests on top of the original white portion. This symbolizes the Lackses triumph over their poor heritage through the death of Henrietta. Although her death was painful, she made the Lacks family even more important than their ancestors. Henrietta had contributed to one of the most important scientific and research revolutions in history. She had caused her side of the family to be able to “cover” their unjust past and create a better life for themselves. Skloot notes that Henrietta seemed to be helping her family in various ways. Because their family had been so close knit and had often intermarried, the younger generation experienced many occurrences of medical deficiencies. Her cells aided in the engineering of the medicines her children and her children’s children needed on a day to day basis. The color of their skin that had limited them for years in the past didn’t seem to matter anymore. The Lacks family was finally equal.

April 1, 2014

Henrietta Lacks - Related Current Event Throughout the nineteen hundreds, HeLa cells were used in many innovative researches because these cells were the only human cells that could withstand surviving outside of human bodies. However, in recent years, scientists have created new solutions, that are modeled after blood plasma, with the ability to sustain cell growth and life in a petre dish. Now, scientists can grow copies of virtually any human or animal cell. This discovery has solved the greatest fault of researches that used HeLa cells: the fact that HeLa wasn’t normal, it was cancerous. Without the cancerous and mutated cells interfering with the “true” results, scientists can create safer test results for mankind. Ross Gransville Harrison was the scientist who developed the new culture medium that could sustain full human tissues. Unlike Robert Gey who developed the culture medium that made HeLa successful, Ross used a mixture of individual chemicals instead of randomly brewing up uncommon bodily fluids (ex. Chicken blood, umbical-chord blood). This method created a more accurate way to replicate the conditions of human blood plasma outside the body. Currently, this solution is being used in various research facilities regarding diseases and human growth, unlocking the answers to questions humans have asked for thousands of years. Surely this solution