Finally: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.

Yesterday, on an adventure that included accidentally finding the worst lamb gyro in Trinidad and Tobago, I found myself in a bookstore in a mall.

The selections are generally dismal in Trinidad for me, which is unfair since I have read much in my life and it’s hard to find things that appeal to me. Still, the name on that cover. Is it? Could it be?

I began thumbing through the pages when the clerk at the store asked me if I needed help, something that always boggles my mind, and I mentioned that I was wondering if this is the same woman who had cancer and whose cells continue to be used in research around the world.

To my surprise, the clerk said, “Yes, it is! One of our customers bought the book and when she came back she told me all about it!”. I was surprised that she knew. I’d been aware since Daniel J. Solove mentioned it in one of his books on Privacy, and this is a bit of a landmark.

More people should read Daniel J. Solove’s works on Privacy.

I have barely started the book, one that has been on my reading list for some time but I just never remembered to get in a world that comes at us so quickly. Keeping current on the world in many ways is important and impossible at the same time, and sometimes without the opportunity some things slip through the cracks. This was an opportunity.

The book is old by modern standards (2010; 13 years old) but Rebecca Skloot did a lot of ground research and took pains to quote people as they spoke to give us a window into the time period, which is before my own.

Henrietta Lacks even beyond her death continues to save lives – but she and her family never saw a penny (as far as I know right now). There is a lawsuit between her estate and Thermo Fischer Scientific Inc which I intend to follow up on as time permits.

Imagine someone publishing your grandparents DNA publicly. That seems like one of the more ultimate invasions of privacy.

It will be good to read the how in the when. Having barely made it into the book, I will say the author certainly has not stolen the time from this piece, which I think is an important thing for us to understand because without that, we can’t look at what’s happening now and understand some of the implications.