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The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by [Skloot, Rebecca]
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The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks Kindle Edition

4.3 out of 5 stars 64 customer reviews

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Product Description

Review

"'One of the most graceful and moving non-fiction books I've read in a very long time' Dwight Garner, New York Times 'Skloot's book is wonderful - deeply felt, gracefully written, sharply reported. It is a story about science but, much more, about life.' Susan Orlean, author of The Orchid Thief"

Product Description

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

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.


Product Details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 7787 KB
  • Print Length: 386 pages
  • Publisher: Broadway Books (Jan. 28 2010)
  • Sold by: Random House Canada, Incorp.
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400052181
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400052189
  • ASIN: B00338QENI
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars 64 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #4,660 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I'm a scientist and have used HeLa cells for many years, with only a vague idea of where they had come from. This terrific book brings a human side to the early days of cell culture and also a fascinating insight into some more modern problems (cell-line contamination) as well as to historical ones (racism and institutionalization), both of which we hope are going away... The book is well-written and obviously a labor of love for both its author and Ms. Lacks's relatives. Thank you for writing this! I'll recommend it to everyone I know.
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Format: Paperback
This is one of the most powerful books I have read.

Before I read this, I knew the briefest sketch background that Henrietta Lacks had been black, diagnosed with cancer, and that HeLa had been derived from her cancerous cells. I knew that HeLa was one of the most used cell lines, utilized in vaccine development, cancer research, everything.

Read this, truly read this. There is a lot to take in, the direct story, as well as the indirect - changes in bedside manner, how information is relayed to patients, how consent is obtained. (And, how it is still not obtained in some cases, as in the matter of research involving fetal blood samples within the last decade)

Honour Henrietta Lacks, and her unwilling contribution to medicine - for her cells were not donated, but a biopsy sample which was found useful. That sample was then grown and grown again, given to colleagues, and someone else then created a biological for-profit company based on selling samples of her cells.

In the words of Henrietta's daughter Deborah: "If you gonna go into history, you can't do it with a hate attitude. You got to remember, times was different."

At the same time, it isn't right that profits are derived from the family's genetic material - and they have had their genetic data published, without permission, numerous times.
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Format: Paperback
This is a long overdue biography of a woman who unwittingly made a tremendous contribution to medical research. In the days when ethics approval was not required for obtaining patient samples for research purposes, cervical cancer cells from Henrietta Lacks (so-called HeLa cells) were carefully excised and placed into culture media in an attempt to grow these ex vivo. The researchers of the day could not anticipate that her cells would grow vigorously, and continue to grow to this day in numerous labs around the world. At that time, the successful culturing of cells was considered a fantasy because so many cells failed to thrive in culture media, whether obtained from normal or cancerous tissues. The rapidly growing immortalized cells from Henrietta Lacks pre-empted ethical considerations for the patient and her family, since it was not expected that they would actually succeed in cell culture. Moreover, it was not possible to anticipate the enormous wealth of knowledge regarding protein and DNA structure and function that these cells provided. The events that unfolded following the exceptional ability to culture HeLa cells led to unforeseen consequences for the Lacks family as well as numerous researchers and clinicians whose careers were staked on these cells. Rebecca Skloot provides a compassionate and meticulous insight into the Lacks family and their reaction to the generation of HeLa cells. This is a must-read for anyone wishing to understand processes underlying medical ethics and how research has relied on human samples in the past century. It is also essential reading for researchers who have handled HeLa cells (including this reviewer).
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Format: Audio CD
Any review by wife or myself of this book in the print version would be high - it is an exceptional book in its content. The manner in which it has been researched and then dialogued is just short of brilliant. However, to listen to "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks" in our car while driving is a special occasion indeed.

Unlike a novel, there is no need to remember the characters, the plot line and the passage. We, the listeners are being treated to a verbal exposé of illuminating, amazing, albeit shameful scientific facts behind a medical methodology that has aided and provided benefit for millions of people in the need of medical solutions and aid.

The author insinuates herself into the book in a playful but purposeful manner which lends immediate personality to the facts as if a story is being told; it is in fact a story - just a true one. Whenever we stop and turn the engine off to get ready to disembark from our SUV, we almost always pause and listen to a conclusion of the particular topic or thought of the author Rebecca Skloot. When we walk away, the interactions within the book leave us with plenty to talk about if others daily routines do not have the power to intercept and give priority to... In print it would be a book 'one would not want to put down', in the car it is one to take on a l-o-o-n-g journey.
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Format: Paperback
I had a difficult time putting this book down; it is fascinating, thrilling, intellectually stimulating yet deeply moving as well. Thank goodness Ms. Skloot investigated and recorded the story of Henrietta Lacks; had more time passed, the information and people that assisted in this wonderful investigation into Ms. Lacks' life would have been gone, the story behind this amazing medical phenomenon, lost. It makes one wonder what other stories about interesting, important yet unsung heroes can no longer be written because of the passage of time and the death of people who knew them. I am thankful that Ms. Skloot had the interest and drive to see this investigation through, along with the Lacks family.

The book was a combination of science thriller, mystery novel, and wonderful human-interest story. There are not many times after reading a book that I've felt I've learned about something truly significant, yet I felt this way after reading The Immortal Life of Henrieta Lacks.
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