The Rights Of A Mans Cells English Literature Essay

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Frank Burnet pursues his doctor legally, UCLA, and BioGen Research for the illegal removal of his cells from his body and selling them to make cancer fighting drugs. Frank comes off in the press as ungrateful to his doctor for saving his life and unwilling to help in a process that will save millions of lives. The judge appears to agree with this bad press because he rules against Frank, in essence saying that BioGen owns the very cells that still circulate in Frank's body. Frank vows to continue fighting. During a meeting with his lawyers and the lawyers from BioGen, Frank is approached by a man who claims that he can find a way for Frank to profit from the cells that still circulate in his body. All Frank has to do is take a vacation.

Henry Kendall hears on the news that some tourist saw an orangutan in Sumatra that could speak. This causes Henry to remember an experiment he began and failed to complete at the NIH labs four years before. When, a few weeks later, Henry is sent a vial of blood from a friend who works at the NIH, Henry's worst fears are confirmed. The chimpanzee embryo he transferred his own DNA to somehow survived and is now a four-year-old chimpanzee who can speak and reason like a human child. Henry visits the animal only to learn that the lab intends to destroy him. Henry sneaks the animal out of the lab and takes him home where his wife insists they raise him as one of their own.

Josh Winkler works at BioGen where he is running experiments on a maturity gene. Josh is in the middle of administering the gene to his mice when his mother calls and asks him to pick his brother up at the courthouse. Josh's brother, a drug addict, has been arrested again. Josh does as he is asked, taking the canister containing the gene with him so he can complete the administration upon returning. However, when Josh stops for gas, his brother inhales the contents of the canister, thinking it might be something that will make him high. Within days, Josh's brother is off the drugs and holding down a full time job for the first time in several years. However, a side effect of the maturity gene is rapid aging. Josh's brother and another drug addict Josh gave the spray to will be dead in a matter of weeks.

Rick Diel is in the middle of a bitter divorce and struggling to keep BioGen out of the hands of his investor, Jack Walton. When Rick's car is stolen from the BioGen parking lot under the watchful eyes of his head of security, Rick decides to hire a security firm recommended by Jack Walton. Within days, Rick's head of security is arrested for having sex with a minor. Things begin to look up for Rick until his wife disappears, leaving him with their small children, and the Burnet cell line, which is the backbone of his company, is contaminated. Rick goes to his lawyers in order to find a way to rectify at least the ruined cell line. The lawyers tell Rick that because he owns the cell line, he can take it from any source necessary. Since Burnet has disappeared, the lawyers advice Rick to hire a bounty hunter and take the cells by force from Burnet's daughter or grandson.

Alex Burnet rushes to her son's school when the teacher calls telling her that someone has attempted to pick him up. Alex barely escapes a kidnapping attempt when she arrives at the school. Alex takes her son, borrows her assistant's car, and leaves town. Alex arrives at the Kendall home moments ahead of her pursuers. The bounty hunter mistakes Kendall's son for Alex's and steals him off the street, right in front of Dave, the chimpanzee-human hybrid Henry Kendall created. Dave wants to protect his new brother, so he climbs onto the kidnappers' car and attacks the driver, causing an accident. The kidnappers escape and manage to steal the right child moments later.

Alex, Henry, and Dave follow the kidnappers and steal Alex's son back at gunpoint. At the same time, a judge is considering whether or not BioGen has the right to take cells from Alex and her son without their consent. The next day the judge rules that BioGen does not have this right and that they do not have the right to take them from Frank Burnet, either. The judge rules that no one can own another person's cells but that person. This ruling effectively ruins BioGen, who is already struggling under a lawsuit brought by a cousin of Josh Winkler's mother. Josh sent this cousin a canister that was supposed to contain the maturity gene, but actually contained saline. The cousin's family is accusing Josh's canister of causing their mother's Alzheimer's disease.

Characters

Frank Burnet

Frank Burnet is a construction worker who developed cancer in middle age. Burnet sought treatment and survived his cancer despite being told he would not. A time after Burnet has been told his cancer is in remission, he goes to the doctor for routine follow up tests. Shortly after these tests, Burnet's doctor calls him and asks to run more tests. The doctor does not tell Burnet what these tests are for. However, Burnet is routinely called in for more of these tests. Burnet comes to believe that his cancer has returned. At each visit, the doctor has consent forms for Burnet to sign, each more complicated than the ones before. Eventually Burnet becomes suspicious, and refuses to sign to consent forms. Soon after, Burnet learns that the doctor has discovered that his cells contain a cancer fighting element that he has been harvesting and selling to BioGen.

Burnet sues UCLA, his doctor, and BioGen for compensation for the sale of his cells. However, the court rules that Burnet agreed to the use of his cells in research and that once the cells were removed from his body they were considered medical waste. It is ruled that Burnet's cells do not belong to him, but in fact belong to BioGen. Burnet is outraged at the ruling and continues to fight, taking his case to the appellate court. Before it gets that far, however, Burnet is approached by an unknown man who offers to pay him millions of dollars in exchange for his cells. Burnet agrees, especially after he learns that the cells currently belonging to BioGen will be destroyed. However, while Burnet is gone having his cells harvested, BioGen arranges to kidnap his grandson in order to harvest the cells from him, reasoning that BioGen owns Burnet's cells no matter whose body they are in. Eventually, a lower court will make the ruling that Burnet's cells remain his property whether they are in his body or not.

Josh Winkler

Josh Winkler works at BioGen. Josh works on a project that is testing a maturity gene on mice. One afternoon, while giving the mice the retrovirus that transmits the gene, Josh gets a call to pick his brother up at the courthouse. Josh's brother is a drug addict whose life is quickly going downhill. Josh takes the canister of mouse retrovirus with him when he leaves, because he does not have time to put it away properly. While Josh is getting gas, his brother administers the retrovirus to himself, hoping it will have something in it that will make him high. Within a few days, Josh's brother is off the drugs and is holding a full-time job.

So happy with her son's miraculous cure, Josh's mother talks him into using the spray on the son of one of her friends, who is also a drug addict. Josh's mother also asks him to send the spray to a cousin in New Jersey, but this time Josh only sends saline. A few weeks later, Josh learns that the second drug addict he used the spray on has died of a heart attack, despite being a young man. Josh goes to see his brother and finds that he has also aged quickly. Within a few weeks, Josh's brother dies of ailments normally only seen in the very old. Josh's actions are illegal and have left BioGen open to litigation. Not only this, but the cousin in New Jersey has developed Alzheimer's and her family is suing Josh and BioGen for causing the disease.