Hela: Henrietta’s Gift to the World


A children’s Illustrated book based on life of Henrietta Lacks, a Black African-American Women who went to John’s Hopkin’s Hospital in 1950’s for treatment of Cervical Cancer. Her Cells were removed from her body without her knowledge and consent and were shared widely for research with scientists worldwide. Turned out that these Unique Purple Cells has an extraordinary capacity to reproduce and survive. Unlike normal human cells which would die, these cells doubled every 20-24 hours. Her cells became a workhorse of extensive biological research. Today these incredible cells nicknamed – Hela Cells are used to study effects of drugs, toxins, hormones and viruses on the growth of cancer cells without experimenting on humans. Hela Cells has also been used to make vaccine for Polio. Although Henrietta Lacks ultimately passed away on October 4,1951 at age of 31, her cells continue to impact the world. And for decades even after her death, doctors and scientist failed to ask her family for consent for using her cells, giving her medical records to the media and profiting millions from her cells without passing any money back to her family. The book highlights the issue of Informed Consent, Bio-Ethics and Racial Discrimination.


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