Posted: October 17th, 2013
Henrietta Lacks was suffering from cervical cancer; and she later died after her cancer had spread throughout her body. Cells from her cancerous tumor were taken by George Otto Gey, a medical researcher, which he cultured in his efforts in medical research to find a viable cancer treatment. Henrietta’s cells were unique in that they would multiply even after death of the host. However, some cells behaved differently from the others. With that, George Gey was able to isolate some of the cells, keep them alive to come up with the HeLa cell line. This became one of the incredible breakthroughs in the history of biomedical research.
Subsequently, this gave rise to many queries as to how Gey had obtained the cells of a black person in a period that was plagued by racial prejudice. In a racially prejudicial period, critics were of the opinion as to how a white doctor was conducting research on a black person’s cells, yet when she was alive, she was not allowed access to hospitals that were used by white people.
Many more doctors were to use the HeLa cell line in quest of medical breakthroughs of other diseases. For instance, Jon Salk was able to use the HeLa cell line to come up with a polio vaccine. Furthermore, her cells have gone into mass production for medical research into viral diseases. In fact, doctors went to the very extreme of contacting Henrietta’s blood relatives seeking samples to advance their research. This depicts the hunger fulfill to egos, and it should not override the common benefit of establishing cures for resistant diseases.
On the other hand, these efforts had the interest of humankind at the forefront in finding elusive cures for diseases that had plagued the world for exceptionally long periods. To determine what is morally acceptable and what is not morally acceptable the benefits of such actions must be put in perspective. In addition, doctors should follow the right criterion of obtaining such samples and not persistently harassing family members in their quest to make names for themselves or fulfill other selfish needs.
It is practically impossible to accomplish everything in life. However, it is possible and essential to accomplish what one has his or her eyes set on. I have been particularly inquisitive since I was a young child, always asking older people around me what certain things were. Curiosity has played a significant role in forming my character, and ever since, I have always thought and wanted to be a journalist. The thought of being a journalist comes with enormous responsibilities such as letting the world get true first-hand accounts of issues without bias. I think I was meant to reveal issues to the public domain that are hidden by the political class.
I think it is my duty to enlighten people about issues that they do not have an idea existed. This would enable people to confront such issues that affect them directly. I look at past events where revelations about injustices in a nation and the impact they have on the common people draw empathy and add to the zeal with which I have to achieve my dream. I am determined to enlighten people and give them the chance of knowing what revolves around them. As the adage goes “knowledge is power”, and thus giving people the right information would enhance their knowledge in seeking justice for inequalities and past misdeeds against them.
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