Making Billions{?} on Health, Yet Sources Of Not Compensated!

( – promoted by buhdydharma )

This was on the CBS Sunday Morning show yesterday and still has me boiling!

You want to talk “Health Care” and the millions being spent by the special interests, and their lackeys seeking more as they say “No”, that profit mightily from the ever rising costs by anything related to those two words, “Health Care” and the industry it is.

I’m going to start this off with a cut from the report, video not up:

And consider this: The family of the woman whose cells changed medical history . . . can’t afford health insurance.

Henrietta’s middle child, Sonny, is $100,000 in debt after bypass surgery.

“How does that leave you feeling?” asked Axelrod.

The report was titled The Immortal Henrietta Lacks and it was a discussion with the author of a book about Henrietta, Rebecca Skloot a professor at the University of Memphis who spent some ten years researching and then writing a now bestseller The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.

Who is Henrietta Lacks:

Somewhere in the humble family cemetery off a country road in the town of Clover in southern Virginia, a woman who died nearly 60 years ago lies in an unmarked grave.

It is a shame, because the world should know her name: Henrietta Lacks.

She was a poor, African-American tobacco farmer, a mother of five children, who died of cervical cancer when she was 31.

She was also, says Rebecca Skloot, one of the most important unknown figures in medicine, “and she had no idea.”

How did this all come about and who, without her knowledge, decided to take and then use her cells while she was still alive and without her knowledge:

The story starts near the end of Henrietta’s life: in 1950 the great-granddaughter of slaves was being treated for cervical cancer at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore.

Without her knowing, and unrelated to her treatment, doctors took some of her cells for research.

“She happened to walk into Hopkins at a time when scientists were trying to grow human cells in culture and were taking cells from anybody they could,” said Skloot.

By the late 1940s scientists were on the brink of a golden age of medicine, Jonas Salk was racing to develop the polio vaccine, but his work – and that of countless others – was hampered because they lacked a critical tool: human cells for testing.


“Took off” doesn’t begin to describe it. For the first time in history, human cells could be grown and infinitely replicated, outside the body.

She died eight months after seeking help at Johns Hopkins but as the story reports her cells once started to be used continued on “multiplying by the billions.”.

To this day her cells, called “HeLa” cells, are described in the report as a cornerstone of modern medicine.

Her family never found out neither until a researcher called in the seventies, long after her death and long after her cells had already started being invaluable to scientists.

“Henrietta’s husband basically got a phone call one day,” Skloot said, “and the way he understood it was, ‘We’ve got your wife, she’s alive in a laboratory, we’ve been doing research on her for the last 25 years.’ The only cell he’d ever heard of was the kind in a prison, and he literally thought, ‘Okay, so, they have her in a cell? They have part of her in a cell?'”

The news left the Lacks family confused . . . and scared.

The arrogance of those at Johns Hopkins, though they claim they never sold the cells, and those that continue to use her cells or that produced from.

“Is there any way to calculate how much money has been made off of Henrietta Lacks’ cells?” Axelrod asked.

And as mentioned by one of the female members of the family:

“I almost feel raped, like the family feels raped,” one Lacks family member told Axelrod. “You know, they did it, and nobody told it.” –>–>–>

Read the rest, might have cut abit more then I should, but there is more.

And here’s some recent reports that hadn’t been widely seen, not at least by me, and certainly in this long debate on Health Care not much media coverage.

Henrietta Lacks’ ‘Immortal’ Cells

Journalist Rebecca Skloot’s new book investigates how a poor black tobacco farmer had a groundbreaking impact on modern medicine

Medical researchers use laboratory-grown human cells to learn the intricacies of how cells work and test theories about the causes and treatment of diseases. The cell lines they need are “immortal”-they can grow indefinitely, be frozen for decades, divided into different batches and shared among scientists. –>–>–>

‘Henrietta Lacks’: A Donor’s Immortal Legacy

You really might want to listen to this Fresh Air discussion with Rebecca Skloots, there’s a excerpt of the book at the site, and read the other reports on this woman who gave so much and never know it had started and her family never finding out till some twenty five years later.

A good reason Health Care should not be an Industry, especially a very profitable one for only a few!

1 comment

  1. I, like many other biomedical researchers, have grown HeLa cells in the cell culture lab. The Lacks family should be compensated for Henrietta’s contribution to science. At the very least, she should have been asked for permission. My dad died of cancer and donated his body to medicine, but at least he was asked about it.

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