Customer Reviews: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
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on December 19, 2012
The book shows just how scary some medical procedures and testing can be. The most disturbing thing about the book is that the individuals-Henrietta and her family, were not properly advised nor was proper consent requested to allow the family a realistic view of how the cnacer cells would be tested, used, and sold all over the world.
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on September 24, 2013
I had gotten this from the library and knew I had to have a copy for my doctor which he will get on the 8th at my visit. I already made plans to donate my body in the hope it will help find a cure for this oral cancer I got from no doubt, my smoking. This book was even better than the large print from the library because it was easier to handle and had color photos.
Anyone interested in the history of Baltimore and the poor health care in the 1950's would find it interesting.
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on December 26, 2012
I happen to work in medical research & the Informed Consent is imperative for all of our studies. However, consenting someone is a massive undertaking. I would think that since tissues and/or blood samples fall into a different category with the FDA taking samples of any kind probably would never harm a donor. Hence no regulation.
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on January 11, 2013
I came to read this book by accident. I rarely read biographies, so it is not the type of book I would ever consider reading. I'm not even sure the book can be called a biography. This is an astounding body of research, exceptionally well reported. Once I started reading I could not stop. The faster technology advances the farther it runs ahead of regulation. Let us all beware.
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on September 8, 2013
This is a very well-written book, detailing the life of the woman whose cells changed more than I ever knew. Henrietta's story, and that of her family, is so interesting. I was hesitant to read this book, since I typically read fiction, but this was a great story. I've been telling everyone about, especially those that I know are interested in biology. It felt like a great character-study on real-life people at times. I highly recommend this book to anyone who likes biology. Very fascinating and at times, disturbing.
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on April 22, 2014
The author presents this amazing true story almost like a mystery. . . .I couldn't put it down and have passed it to my daughters and urged all of my friends to read it. As a chemo recipient and 6 year breast cancer survivor, I sobbed when I realized that the miracle drug that I received, Herceptin, was developed using Henrietta Lacks' cell line (as well as the FISH test for cancer cells that my doctors used in diagnosing my Her2-Positive form of breast cancer).

Many of the medical advances and treatments of the last 50 years were developed using HELA Cells - Henrietta's cell line. However, all of this took place before medical releases and legal protection for patients was implemented in the US. . . . . .this is the story of Henrietta's family coming to terms with the use of their mother's and grandmother's cells used for medical research without their knowledge or permission.
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on January 16, 2014
This book was well structured by inserting the scientific explanations into the narrative. Having this change of emphasis and then also picking up at various points in time, not always sequentially, was a little disjointed. Not confusing, but awkward.
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on June 27, 2012
In between that narrative the author discusses the sciences behind, ethics of informed consent in medical research (people were injected with HeLa - cancerous - cells without being informed), debate about the ownership of discarded body parts and the intellectual property of cells, large biological companies knocking out small government seed-funded laboratories, scientists who have to fund their frontier pushing research out of their own pocket for which they did not benefit monetarily, and Skloot's own surreal experience of tracking down the Lacks and the associated (some overly focused, or rather heartless) scientists.
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on January 15, 2013
This is an interesting book from a social and also a background for scientific research history. Without any of us realizing it, all of our lives have been affected somehow from special cells from one unfortunate person who lived over a half of a century ago.
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on December 4, 2013
I laughed and cried at some embarrassing places where strangers looked at me funny. Great read. Very well written. I feel like I know the family. Knowledge truly is power. Thank you Henrietta Lacks. I earned about your cells in class and now about your family. What a lady.
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