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The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks Analysis

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A paragraph I find important is on page 91 which reads “I started imagining her sitting in her bathroom painting those toenails, and it hit me for the first time that those cells we'd been working with all this time and sending all over the world, they came from a live woman.” This is important because it shows how Mary Kubicek has finally realized that she has been using cells from Henrietta throughout her adult life. This has a huge impact on the story because it shows the effect of medical ethics. 

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By the author including this section it strongly impacted me, as a part of the audience, because it shows insight on how people who work in the medical field can have moral battles with themselves when it comes to handling various situations. This also shines a light on the fact that their people who work in the medical field who do not feel any sense of guilt or any other negative emotions from the practices they use. This passage helps me understand Henrietta Lacks better because it supplies an insight on how her life was belittled because she was an African American and due to the fact she had cells that doctors wanted for their own personal achievements. This passage also helps contribute to the novel as a whole because it shows how her life could of resulted so differently had the doctors been honest with her since the beginning of her treatments at the hospital.

A passage I find important is on page 130 which quotes, “The plan was that Mandel would have doctors on his staff inject twenty-two JCDH patients with cancer cells for Southam. But when he instructed his staff to give the injections without telling patients they contained cancer cells, three young Jewish doctors refused, saying they wouldn't conduct research on patients without their consent.” This is significant because it explains how some doctors would have morals that wouldn’t be deemed as typical and they would treat patients and inject them with the cancer without their knowledge. 

It also describes how there was three Jewish doctors who refused to inject the patients with the cancer cell without their consent; this was extremely important because it shows that their morals were in the right place. This passage made me feel unsettled due to the fact that there were multiple doctors who had no remorse after injecting innocent patients with the cancer cell without any consent. This helps me understand Henrietta’s life better because it shows that she wasn’t the only person being unfairly and wrongfully treated in the hospital at that time. It helps contribute to the novel as a whole because it showcases how medical practices used to be morally wrong and has helped develop changes in the medical community for the safety of patients.

A passage I chose that is significant is on page 33 which quotes, “ But first—though no one had told Henrietta that TeLinde was collecting sample or asked she wanted to be a donor—Wharton picked 32up a sharp knife and shaved two dime-sized pieces of tissue from Henrietta's cervix: one from her tumor, and one from the healthy cervical tissue nearby. Then he placed the samples in a glass dish.” This is a significant passage to the novel as a whole because it goes to explain how Henrietta was treated poorly in the hospitals care since the very beginning. 

The doctors in the hospital were taking samples of of her tissue without her consent for their own medical advancements. This helps me understand Henrietta’s life because it explains how her and her family have had to go through a great amount of grief throughout her life. This passage is interesting because it alludes to the fact that doctor Wharton had no idea that by withdrawing Henritta’s tissues would lead to such a huge advancement in the medical field.

A passage that I found important to the novel is on page 82 and it quotes, “'Voodoo,' [Cootie] whispered. 'Some peoples sayin Henrietta's sickness and them cells was man- or woman-made, others say it was doctor-made.” This is important to the novel because it gives insight on how Henrietta and her family was extremely clueless when it came to understanding her treatments and HeLa. The family doesn’t seem to understand what is or has happened with Henrietta’s cancer or the practices that happen in a medical environment. 

This passage makes me feel sympathetic towards her family because they truly had no idea what was happening or have an idea of what was next to come due to the discovery of HeLa. The author was able to make it seem obvious that Henrietta’s cousin had no substantial knowledge about what HeLa was or its significance. The passage helps me understand Henrietta’s life because it easily lays out how easy it was for her to not know what was happening when they were taking her tissues without any consent due to the fact she had little to no knowledge on anything medical. 

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