WOW Gal Angel
 Henrietta (Pleasant) Lacks

Henrietta Lacks was born Loretta Pleasant August 1, 1920,  in  Roanoke, Virginia. At some point in her life, she changed her name to Henrietta. 

Do you ever wonder if your existence will make some impact after you are gone?  That thought has come to me  at  times.    After  reading   about  a  young  black woman who died of cervical cancer many years ago, I was  impressed  to  realize HER legacy is truly unique and  a positive benefit  to all  of us today  and  into the future.  Henrietta Lacks impacted  the  medical world simply by BEING herself. 

A  young  Virginian  mother  of five,  Henrietta Lacks,  visited  The  Johns  Hopkins  Hospital   in 1951.  This hospital   was  one  of  only  a  few  hospitals  to  treat poor  AfricanAmericans.  She  presented  with vaginal bleeding   which  led   to   renowned  gynecologist  Dr. Howard Jones  discovering  a  large,  malignant tumor on  her  cervix,   a  very unusually aggressive  form of cervical cancer.
Medical records show that Henrietta underwent radium treatments for cervical cancer which was the best treatment available at that time. A sample of her cervical cells was obtained as was common practice at the time and sent to Dr. George Gey who was a prominent cancer and virus researcher.  He had obtained cells from all patients with cervical cancer but those cells had quickly died. He was stunned to find, however, unlike all of the previous patient cells, that Henrietta's cells not only flourished but they doubled every 20 to 24 hours.  He discovered that Lacks' cells could not only be kept alive, but would also grow indefinitely. 

These incredible cells were nicknamed "HeLa" cells, from the first two letters of her first and last names,  For the past 60 years, Henrietta's cells have been cultured and used in experiments ranging from determining the long-term effects of radiation to testing the live polio vaccine. Her cells were commercialized and have generated millions of dollars in profit for the medical researchers who patented her tissue. Since then, her “Immortal” cells have been used to culture an endless supply of cells for medical research, and have been the subject of thousands of scientific papers. 

It was only much later, that her family found out that these cells had been obtained without Henrietta's knowledge or permission, long before federal law prohibited taking biological samples without consent. Henrietta's family members, who have not benefited financially from her legacy, did not know for decades that her cells were being used. Of course, after the full genome was posted publicly, concerns over privacy prompted discussion about the ethics surrounding the use of genetic material. 

Democracy Now Video Tributes to Henrietta Lacks

 BuildingJohn Hopkins / Book: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks /  Movie )



Something You Didn’t Learn in School:

 True Story of Henrietta Lacks

(More Historical Info - Sorry about the sound quality)


Today,  Henrietta's HeLa exceptional cells are now used to study the effects of toxins, drugs, hormones and viruses on the growth of cancer cells thus avoiding experimentation on human beings. Henrietta's unique cells are used to test the effects of radiation and poisons, to study the human genome, to learn more about how viruses work, and have played a crucial role in the development of the polio vaccine. 

Although she ultimately passed away on October 4, 1951, at the age of 31, her cells continue to impact the world. As of August 2013, two members of her family sit on the six-member committee that regulates access to the HeLa genetic code by research projects funded by the National Institutes of Health. The 2010 publication of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks written by Medical writer Rebecca Skloot garnered widespread attention. Informed consent dominated the discussion of the book.

Henrietta's  story   has  led   to   “Lessons from HeLa Cells:   The Ethics  and Policy of  Biospecimens”  by  Laura  M.  Beskow  and many more journals continue.

Henrietta Lacks   truly lives  on through her unique  HeLa  cells. This poor.  hardworking African-American   tobacco   farmer,  her life was  taken   far   too  young  and yet  she, to this day  and  beyond,  continues   to give to the world's health simply by being Henrietta.

A Cancer survivor myself, I am  honoured to 
Helps individuals who made important contributions to scientific research without personally benefiting from them, particularly has been used in research without their knowledge or consent.
share this info of an Amazing woman little known by those never touched by this disease. I will always be grateful for her albeit unknowing contribution.  She is definitely one of my valued woman heros

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