‘One Book, One Community’ selection addresses med ethics

POULSBO — Kitsap Regional Library’s celebration of “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks,” the One Book, One Community selection for 2012, began Sept. 15.

The library system has ordered a few hundred copies of the book in various formats, including ebook, to make sure that people who would like to read the title have the opportunity to do so.

A series of programs and book discussion opportunities will follow in October.

Henrietta Lacks started her life working the same Virginia land as her enslaved ancestors but ended up following her husband north to Baltimore as he sought work during World War II. She died in 1951 after receiving treatment for cancer at a Johns Hopkins clinic.

Her cancer cells — taken without her knowledge — became one of the most important tools in medicine. The first “immortal” human cells grown in culture, HeLa cells, they are still alive today.

“The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” by Rebecca Skloot, traces the story behind this major scientific discovery. HeLa cells were vital for developing the polio vaccine; uncovered secrets of cancer, viruses, and helped lead to important advances like in vitro fertilization, cloning, and gene mapping. The cells have been bought and sold by the billions.

Yet Henrietta Lacks is virtually unknown, buried until recently in an unmarked grave. Her family did not learn of her “immortality” until more than 20 years after her death. And though the cells had launched a multimillion-dollar industry that sells human biological materials, her family never saw any of the profits.

Local events
Discussion Forums
— Oct. 11, 2 p.m., Little Boston Library.
— Oct. 23, 2 p.m., Poulsbo Library.
— “Informed Consent and the Henrietta Lacks Story,” Oct. 2, 2 p.m., Poulsbo Library.
— “The Heart of a Dog,” Oct. 12, 7 p.m., Poulsbo Library.
— “African American Women in the 1950s,” Oct. 13, 11 a.m., Little Boston Library.
— “Life in the 1950s: The Making of Immortality,” Oct. 16, 6:30 p.m., Kingston Library.

KRL Book Groups
— Oct. 17, 10:30 a.m., Kingston Library.
— Online discussion moderated by Digital Branch Manager Sharon Grant, Oct. 28, 2 p.m., on KRL’s Facebook page.

— “Gattaca” (Columbia Pictures, 1997, PG-13), Oct. 19, 2:30 p.m., Little Boston Library.
— “One True Thing”  (Universal, 1998, R), Oct. 27, 11 a.m., Firehouse Theater, Kingston.

More events around the county can be found at


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