Lacks died after eight months, but her cells live, the first cell line to survive, cultured in vitro at the Hospital’s laboratory for cervical research and since then literally immortal (Brodwin 2000 54-57). Those cells are still being cultured today and are used for research on cancer, AIDS, various other diseases and gene-related studies. In the book The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, Lacks’ children grieved at the fact that others made a multi-million industry of their mother’s cells while they are living a life of poverty (Skloot 2010). Despite the medical benefits brought about by HeLa, there are those who believe that an ethical breach occurred when Lacks cells were used for research without her and/or her children’s knowledge and consent.
According to Anders Nordgren, dialogue, which includes informed consent, is central to ethical research. There is an unwritten agreement among the research community that a research must always be preceded by the consent of the subject concerned (2001 p 128). Informed consent, which involves disclosure, understanding, voluntariness, authorization, and precondition (Nordgren 2008 p. 128), is merely in keeping with the right of a person to privacy, one of the rights mentioned by the 9th Amendment to the Constitution. In the case of Pavesich v New England Life Insurance Company 50 S.E. 68 (Ga. 1905), the Court concluded that the right to privacy is an independent right under a state constitution (Schultz 576). Moreover, modern trends in ethical research suggests the significance and impact of informed consent to the entire family lineage of the individual whose cells are being made a subject of research (Lea et al 1998 p.91).
The elements of disclosure and understanding requires that a person must be notified and recognize the various aspects of the research, such as its