#BlackHistoryMonth Henrietta Lacks

Henrietta Lacks

Henrietta Lacks was born on August 1, 1920, in Roanoke Virginia. She was a wife and a mother of five. In 1941, Henrietta and her husband moved to Baltimore, Maryland. Lacks went to John Hopkins Hospital on January 29, 1951, because she was experiencing abnormal pain and bleeding. Dr. Howard Jones diagnosed her with cervical cancer. While receiving radiation treatment, doctors removed two cells from her cervix without her knowledge. Lacks died on October 4, 1951, at the age of 31. Her cells were sent to a laboratory and Dr. George Otto Gey noticed something different with Lack’s cells. He discovered her cells could be kept alive and could continue to grow. Dr. Gey created a cell line and named it HeLa. He isolated one specific cell and multiplied it. The HeLa cell was used by Jonas Stalk to develop a vaccine for polio. In 1955, scientists cloned the cells and the demand for them grew. Over ten thousand patents involving the HeLa cell have been registered since then. Researchers have used the cells to study diseases and illnesses, such as cancer and AIDS. They have also used the cells to test human sensitivity to new products, such as tape, glue, and cosmetics. The Lack family did not find out about Henrietta cells being removed and used for experiments until the 1970’s. In 1973, they received a call from a scientist who was looking for family members to get blood samples and to find out genetic questions, such as hair and eye color. The HeLa cell launched a multimillion-dollar industry and her family has never received a profit or the recognition Henrietta deserves.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s