I’d never heard of Henrietta Lacks until yesterday. But after reading her life and afterlife story (i.e., her Wikipedia page), I am amazed.
Mountain View College presents “Remembering Henrietta Lacks: A Conversation with her Family” at 11 a.m. Thursday in the performance hall, followed by a luncheon.
Lacks was the unwitting source of an immortal cell line, which allowed scientists to make huge strides in medicine, including the creation of Jonas Salk’s polio vaccine. Lacks, who was African American, was born in 1920. She had cervical cancer, among other ailments, and she died of kidney failure at age 31.
Her doctor at Johns Hopkins Hospital discovered in a cervical biopsy that her cells had a unique quality. They could be kept alive and grow. Without Lacks’s permission, doctors used the cells to create the HeLa immortal cell line, which is used in scientific research to this day.
Lacks’s family didn’t know about HeLa until the 1970s, when researchers contacted them to ask about their genetic traits.
The lecture Thursday is free.