So. it could be said that Henrietta Lacks left an inheritance to everyone EXCEPT her family?
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
The medical establishment, who took a figurative "pound of flesh" from Mrs. Lacks were untroubled by the ethics that permitted the medical establishment to profit while Mrs. Lacks was left to live as though their family name was their destiny. Is this right? Couldn't the impoverished Lacks family be provided with at least a minimal, non-zero compensation?
Something is in the works, but there's a lot of infighting amongst family members.
This is how medicine advances. People wanted to know how and why she died to prevent more people dying the same way. Turned out there was something special or unique about her cells and / or the process they underwent but she didn't really do anything herself - all the credit goes to the medical people who discovered it and have been using them to further research into cancers.
Of course it's typical that family would then squabble over the chance of a payout.
Another amazing story of someone with some unique characteristic:
The medical procedures were done w/o her consent.
That is the issue.
And, the untold millions medical research institutions made off her cells.
The medical procedures were done w/o her consent
She was dead.
the untold millions medical research institutions made off her cells
Work that they did. On face value it seems unfair but what exactly did she "do"? All the research and science was done by other people.
If I agree to provide a blood sample and someone discovers that my blood cures cancer, that isn't my discovery. Sure, I might profit from providing more blood in future because hey, the price just went up, but if I'd died and the cells were taken as part of an autopsy ... well, I'd be shit out of luck.
I think a huge mistake was made when science found out how valuable her cells were and no one thought or wanted to think how a foundation in her name, a fund for her surviving family would have been an appropriate gesture.
In 1951, Henrietta Lacks, a poor woman with a middle-school education, made one of the greatest medical contributions ever. Her cells, taken from a cervical-cancer biopsy, became the first immortal human cell line—the cells reproduce infinitely in a lab. Although other immortal lines have since been established, Lacks's "HeLa" cells are the standard in labs around the world. Together they outweigh 100 Empire State Buildings and could circle the equator three times. This month, PopSci contributor Rebecca Skloot's book, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, tells the story behind the woman who revolutionized modern medicine. Here, five reasons we should all thank Henrietta Lacks.
1. Before HeLa cells, scientists spent more time trying to keep cells alive than performing actual research on the cells. An endless supply of HeLa cells freed up time for discovery.
2. In 1952, the worst year of the polio epidemic, HeLa cells were used to test the vaccine that protected millions.
3. Some cells in Lacks's tissue sample behaved differently than others. Scientists learned to isolate one specific cell, multiply it, and start a cell line. Isolating one cell and keeping it alive is the basic technique for cloning and in-vitro fertilization.
4. A scientist accidentally poured a chemical on a HeLa cell that spread out its tangled chromosomes. Later on, scientists used this technique to determine that humans have 46 chromosomes—23 pairs—not 48, which provided the basis for making several types of genetic diagnoses.
5. It was discovered that Lacks's cancerous cells used an enzyme called telomerase to repair their DNA, allowing them, and other types of cancer cells, to function when normal cells would have died. Anti-cancer drugs that work against this enzyme are currently in early clinical trials.
There are days i think im the only person in the world without a victim complex.
While i STRONGLY agree that medical tests/ organ harvesting etc etc should be done with either prior consent or with the consent of next of kin the ablity to paint this as somehow a gross miscarage of social norm or an injustice is twisted.
i wonder how she would feel if she knew how much good had come and what her position would be... the ends doesnt justify the means but even in a strictly legal context no harm was done. Its would be difficult to award damages beyond some punitive fines and modest cash award to the family even in our current lawsuit happy culture.
Life isnt always and we need to speak up when wrong is done. This dosent qualify.
Simon, have you read the book?
Mrs. Lacks was not dead when the culture was taken.