Henrietta Lacks 1 of 2: The Mother of Science | Episode 086


Episode summary introduction:

In 1951, a black woman, Henrietta Lacks was born in Roanoke, VA was diagnosed with cervical cancer. Treated at John Hopkins, samples of her cancer cells and normal cells were taken without her knowledge, permission or consent. She died a year later as her cervical cancer was aggressive. She may have died but her cells live on today.

Topic 1:

For women it’s a yearly visit we all dread. You hear the nurse tell you,” Undress from the waist down, sit here and cover up with this” as she hands you a paper blanket. There we are, half naked, feet in stirrups and a doctor staring at your vagina. That part has changed since the beginning of pelvic exams. But it did change Henrietta, in 1951. 10 years after birthing her last child was diagnosed with cervical cancer at the age of 30.

Topic 2:

For women it’s a yearly visit we all dread. You hear the nurse tell you,” Undress from the waist down, sit here and cover up with this” as she hands you a paper blanket. There we are, half naked, feet in stirrups and a doctor staring at your vagina. That part has changed since the beginning of pelvic exams. But it did change Henrietta, in 1951. 10 years after birthing her last child was diagnosed with cervical cancer at the age of 30.

Topic 3:

Medicine and treatment in 1951

We have to remember back in 1951, Jim Crow laws were still in place. For those who are not familiar with these laws here’s a quick review. Jim Crow and John Hopkins Hospital.

Outro:

Dr. Gey’s discovery would lead to what is now known as HeLa Cells. These cells changed science and treatment of illnesses forever. Join us in our next episode as we discuss the relevance of HeLa Cells and the recent legal and ethical issues that have arised.

References:

https://www.npr.org/2010/02/02/123232331/henrietta-lacks-a-donors-immortal-legacy

http://henriettalacksfoundation.org/

https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/henriettalacks/

https://www.britannica.com/biography/Henrietta-Lacks

https://www.history.com/topics/early-20th-century-us/jim-crow-laws

https://womenshistory.si.edu/herstory/object/henrietta-lacks-hela-mother-modern-medicine

https://www.shortform.com/blog/radium-treatment-henrietta-lacks/

Rebecca Skloot; NPR interview February 2, 201012:00 PM ET Heard on Fresh Air

Article link:

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/10/13/science/henrietta-lacks-cells-who.html

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