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Her name was Henrietta Lacks, although scientists know her as HeLa. Henrietta was a poor African American woman whose cells were taken--without her permission and knowledge in 1951--by Dr. George Gey. After Henrietta found a hard lump near her womb, she payed a visit to John Hopkins Hospital located in Baltimore, Maryland. She was later diagnosed with epidermoid carcinoma of the cervix, Stage 1, but nearly twenty years later, it was changed to adenocarcinoma of the cervix. Just before her first radium treatment, Dr. Lawrence Wharton Jr. collected two dime-sized samples of Henrietta's cervix tissue to give to Dr. George Gey. Dr. Gey's assistant, Mary Kubicek, tested Henrietta's cells to see how long they could survive in culture. Kubicek was amazed to find that HeLa Cells doubled their numbers every twenty-four hours, accumulating by the millions. HeLa Cells are referred to as "miracle cells" because they were the first ever immortal cell line to survive and reproduce outside of the body, in a culture dish that cells typically only divide a few times in before dying. Even though Henrietta's cells have been crucial for making advances in medical research such as, the polio vaccine, cloning, and gene mapping, Dr. George Gey should have asked for her permission prior to taking her cells. Just because there weren't any laws at the time stating that you had to have the patients consent, does not mean that taking her cells, without her knowledge, was the moral thing to do. Although Gey was at fault for taking Henrietta's cells without her being aware of it, numerous amounts of medical mysteries have been unraveled thanks to HeLa Cells. Having that been said, I think that the cells should continue to be put to use. I guesstimate that HeLa cells will impact the population in the U.S. by slightly increasing it. I believe this because Henrietta's cells have been used to find cures for various diseases. Although, in some cases, HeLa cells have been harmful instead of helpful, there is more evidence of it being helpful.

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  • 7 years ago
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