Henrietta Lacks

Topics: Henrietta Lacks, Rebecca Skloot, HeLa, Johns Hopkins Hospital / Pages: 3 (648 words) / Published: Dec 20th, 2013
Henrietta Lacks was born on August 1, 1920, in Roanoke, Virginia. Lacks died of cervical cancer on October 4, 1951, at age 31. Cells taken from her body without her knowledge were used to form the HeLa cell line. Lacks's case has sparked legal and ethical debates over the rights of an individual to his or her genetic material and tissue.
Life and Death
Henrietta Lacks was born as Loretta Pleasant. At some point in time, she changed her name to Henrietta. After her mother died in 1924, she was sent to live with her grandfather in a log cabin, that had been the slave head quarters of a white ancestor’s plantation. Henrietta shared a room with her first cousin. When she was 14, they had a boy named Lawrence and a girl name Elsie. In 1941, they got married. The couple moved to Maryland and had 3 more children. Elsie was forced into the Hospital for the Negro Insane.
On January 29, 1951, Lacks went to Johns Hopkins Hospital to diagnose abnormal pain and bleeding in her abdomen. She was also diagnosed with cervical cancer at the appointment. During her treatments, physicians removed 2 cervical samples without her knowledge. She died at John Hopkins hospital on October 4, 1951. She was a poor Southern tobacco farmer who worked the same land as her slave ancestors, yet her cells became one of the most important tools in medicine. The first 'immortal' human cells grown in culture, they are still alive today, though she has been dead for more than sixty years.
HeLa Cells
The cells from Lack’s made their way to the laboratory. Jonas Salk used the HeLa strain to develop the polio vaccine, sparking mass interest in the cells. Scientists cloned the cells in 1955, as demand grew. Since that time, over ten thousand patents involving HeLa cells have been registered. Researchers have used the cells to study disease and to test human sensitivity to new products and substances.
After Death The Lacks family learned about the cells in the 1970s. In 1973, a scientist

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