How should information regarding Henrietta as the source of HeLa cells have been handled? Explain. 

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jessarm6 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Henrietta's cells were taken without her permission and without her knowledge. While many positive outcomes have come from this, not informing Henrietta about what was happening with her cells was wrong!

First, Henrietta should have been asked if her cells could have been used. She was the owner of these cells and was unaware that they would be studied. Then, Henrietta should have been asked if her identity as the 'owner' of these cells could be shared with medical professionals and the public.

Since this did not happen, Henrietta's family should have been notified about what had taken place and asked if they would allow her cells to continue to be used.  Her family also should have been asked and been required to give permission before Henrietta's identify was shared with others. Since many cells, diseases, etc., are hereditary the family should have had a say in releasing Henrietta as the source. Many medical professionals and 'unprofessionals' might ask her family to donate cells or be studied. The family should have a right and say in what happens to their cells that are a part of them!

Read the study guide:
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

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