Don’t judge the book by the movie! Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. She was a poor black tobacco farmer whose cells were taken without her knowledge in 1951. Those cells became one of the most important tools in medicine. This is a must read for anyone in the medical field.
The HeLa cells were vital for developing the polio vaccine, cloning, gene mapping, and more. Henrietta’s cells have been bought and sold by the billions, yet she remains virtually unknown, and her family can’t afford health insurance.
This book is fascinating on so many levels. The author, Rebecca Skloot, learned about the HeLa cells in class, but no one had any information on who HeLa was. Her curiosity drove Rebecca to trace Henrietta’s story from her initial treatment at John Hopkins Hospital to her daughter in current day. Along the way, she provides a window into the medical field in the 1950s, racism, and poverty that still exists in the South.
This phenomenal New York Times bestseller tells a riveting story of the collision between ethics, race, and medicine; of scientific discovery and faith healing; and of a daughter consumed with questions about the mother she never knew.