Study Guide

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks Deborah's Voice

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Deborah's Voice

  • Henrietta's younger daughter Deborah offers a first-person account of being the daughter of the woman who provided HeLa cells.
  • It's clear that Deborah knows only a little bit about her mother's role in the scientific research done with HeLa cells in the decades since Henrietta's death; no one really took the time to explain it all to her.
  • She also voices her frustration over the exploitation of Henrietta's family in the manufacture and selling of HeLa cells.
  • Deborah points out the irony of people unrelated to the family making a ton of money off her mother when the family can't afford any of the medical advances the cells made possible.
  • But Deborah isn't after money. She just wants to learn more about the mother she never knew.

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