Tissues are still being taken Does anyone realize that this is neither an uncommon nor an obsolete practice ? Many hospitals have a statement in their consent for surgery form which says that they may use tissues removed for research, education, etc. (As long as the patient's identifying information is removed.) Tissues and cells are being collected anonymously on a daily basis in labs all over the country for research and other purposes. Is this a bad thing ? Would research grind to a halt if each patient had to be informed of exactly what was being done with their tissues ? Then what of all the good that comes from such research ?
asked by Attar Peregrine on February 12, 2010
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No, it is not a bad thing.

No, it wouldn't "grind to a halt," but it would be detrimental.
Harkius answered on February 12, 2010
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I have read of one patient who required his doctors to agree, before his surgery, that he would share in the financial benefits of his tissue samples taken during the surgery. At least one patient has sued after the fact, and in that case that I read about the court ruled that once the tissue was removed he no longer had any ownership interest in it. At some point there will be a body of case law on this issue nationwide.
Louie's Mom answered on March 2, 2010
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I had the very same cancer and was treated at Johns Hopkins, they kept my tumor and made me aware of it. They are more than welcome to use it for any cure of any kind or vaccine that it could possibly be used for. Cancer is a hideous disease and I wish them continued success as well as any other research teams. God bless this woman Henrietta Lacks.
Beck answered on May 30, 2010
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Correct, courts have ruled several times that tissue, once removed from your body, is no longer yours. It belongs to the hospital/doctor/whomever (that is, given the standard texts on consent forms, not talking about someone kidnapping you to steal your kidneys).

If that weren't the case disposal of tissue samples and waste from surgical procedures (most of which are simply destroyed by incineration as biohazzard waste of course) would become a major legal hassle, requiring mountains of paperwork.
Imagine every blood or tissue sample of the smallest size that's to be disposed of requiring the lab technician to package it individually, contact the patient from whom it was removed, have them sign forms permitting destruction, and at the destruction site having staff check and log each of those forms individually.

Of course it's not every day that tissue samples are deliberately harvested for research purposes and the patient not informed, but I'm pretty certain it happens and I've no problems with that.
Some people may want to monetize on the tissue taken from them like that (like the person Louie's Mom refers to, who sued everyone he could find in an attempt to rake in millions in licensing fees for his DNA), most will likely be happy to know their cells helped find cures for others (and maybe even for themselves) and probably won't even want to know.
J. T. Wenting answered on May 17, 2010
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I am sure my biopsies went somewhere and I would hope they helped someone. I would never expect compensation for such.
jo-ann brictson answered on March 2, 2010
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It was just the right set of circumstances that made Henrietta's cells grow. The technicians involved, possibly something unique to Henrietta etc. She was not experimented on; it was just diseased tissue that would have been disposed of (like any other patient with a similar situation) if the cells didn't grow. Although I detest the profiteering made on almost all medical related anything, this is a separate issue than what to do with diseased tissue. I do think those who profited off the stories about this should share with the Lacks family for their contribution and for being hassled. The author is doing this.
Mary J. Seitz answered on July 23, 2013
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