The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks Book Report

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Rebecca Skloot once wrote, Henrietta’s were different: they reproduced an entire generation every twenty-four hours, and they never stopped. They became the first immortal human cells ever grown in a laboratory. Over the course of this class, we were assigned to read The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. The Immortal life of Henrietta Lacks is a nonfiction book written by Rebecca Skloot. Henrietta Lacks was an African American woman, who died of cervical cancer in 1951. Henrietta’s cells, called HeLa cells, became the first immortal human cell line. HeLa cells helped make some extremely important discoveries of the 21st century.

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However, we know little to nothing about the woman behind the HeLa cells. Skloot’s purpose for writing this book was to inform people and tell the story of the woman behind the HeLa cells; Henrietta Lacks. If I eventually obtain a job where I have to deal with patients, this book has affected how I will treat them. Henrietta was treated terribly during her life, especially when she went to the hospital to receive treatments. All patients should be treated with respect, dignity, and compassion. Obviously, because her race, among other factors, Henrietta was not treated with respect, dignity, or compassion. My patients will be treated the same no matter their race, religion, gender, or anything else. I will make sure my patients understand the procedures that will be taking place and make sure I answer any questions they may have. Often, doctors and nurses will teach something to the patient and ask them to demonstrate the task back. This makes sure the patient fully understands what the doctor or nurse said is extremely important.

For example, maternity nurses tell patients to have the baby to sleep on their back. To make sure this happens, the nurses will ask the patient how the baby should sleep, or to demonstrate how the baby should sleep, before they can discharge them from the hospital. After reading this book, my awareness concerning health care as a consumer changed drastically. I have not had any personal experience of the healthcare system. Until reading this book, I was unaware of many procedures that may take place in a hospital. Although I have not had much experience of the healthcare system, this book has prepared me for what could possibly happen in the future. One thing I learned was to make sure I fully understand the procedures that will be taking place.

As a consumer, I will make sure the information given to me is clear and precise and if I do not understand it, I will ask for further explanation. For example, when Day didn’t understand what he was signing when he signed the consent form for an autopsy. The consent form would have possibly been above his education level. My personal take away from this book was to become more aware of the medical, legal, gender, and racial issues that affecting our world in both the past and present. I learned to be more aware of the medical procedures from the viewpoint of a consumer as well a future health care provider. I was extremely blind to the legal aspect of the medical field because I was aware of the smallest things, such as signing a consent form, could make the biggest impact.

Before reading the book, I had previous knowledge of the gender and racial issues that occurred during this time period. I was aware the women didn’t have the same opportunities as men, but I didn’t know how serious inequality was during this time. Women didn’t have a voice or opinion and people had to go through the men to even speak or have contact with the women. As for the racial issues in this book, there was a clear divide between African Americans and Caucasians. One being when Henrietta had to go to a separate wing of the hospital because of the color of her skin. All in all, this book furthered my knowledge of the medical field and will help me in my future endeavors.

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The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks Book Report. (2020, Mar 23). Retrieved February 6, 2023 , from
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