Henrietta Lacks has been called the most important person in medicine…though she was never a doctor.

Henrietta Lacks helped to develop the cure for polio….though she never did any research.

Henrietta Lacks lives today…though she died in 1951.

Her Story

Henrietta Lacks went to Johns Hopkins Hospital seeking treatment for cervical cancer in 1950. Henrietta died, but during her stay a sample of her tumor was collected. These cells were taken without her or her family’s knowledge or permission, which was standard practice at the time.

In the lab, her cells were reproduced and used in research. The cells were remarkable because they never died. Her cells, called the HeLa Line, have been used to develop vaccines, to study the effects of radiation, and to invent used in 11,000 registered patents.

Her Legacy

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks tells her story, her family’s story, and her cells’ story. Tragically, the Lacks family (she had five children) had no knowledge of their mother’s donation to science. Her family had no money for a headstone for Henrietta’s grave, though the sale of  her cells have generated millions of dollars for other people. Her family cannot afford health insurance, though their mother is celebrated for her contributions to medicine.

Discover more

Read more about Henrietta Lacks:

Oprah Winfrey and Alan Ball (True Blood, Six Feet Under) are developing a HBO movie about Henrietta Lacks.

Her story was long untold–learn and preserve the legacy.

Written by Suzanne

Suzanne has loved books from an early age, and remembers reading her 24 volume World Book Encyclopedia set when she ran out of novels. Now that she works in a library, she will never run out of reading material again! Suzanne is a recent MLS graduate who loves working with students and technology.

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