Henrietta Lacks By: Chris Scott

Henrietta Lacks is a woman who is famous for her immortal cells. She grew up as a normal girl but later developed a very rare cancer called cervical cancer that couldn't be treated at the time. At the time Dr. George Gey wanted to find someone who had immortal cells (cells that could divide over and over without dying). He tested out many different people's cell to see if they were immortal. All of them failed. Then he tested Henrietta's cells (HeLa cells) and they were actually immortal! Then the doctors took her cells and used them for science without her consent. Later on her cells were used to do amazing things and used for many scientific breakthroughs. Then on October 4, 1951 the cancer ended up killing her.

After death, the doctors started using her cells for many scientific experiments and were using them without the family's consent. They shipped them around the world, showed them off in important meetings, and they performed many different scientific experiments. They did all of this and Henrietta's family had no idea.

A HeLa cell is an immortal cell that is used in scientific research. The HeLa cell originated from a woman named Henrietta Lacks. She was diagnosed with cervical cancer that could not be cured at the time. A doctor took a sample of her cells and they turned about to be immortal which means they can divide over and over again infinetly. From that day her cells have been used in many scientific breakthroughs and discoveries like a polio vaccine that cured polio and even some vaccines for other cancers.

In 1951, George Gey successfully cultures the first human immortal cell line using cells from Henrietta's cervix. This was a scientific breakthrough because for a long time doctors tried to find someone who had immortal cells. Then when they found Henrietta and she had them this was a miracle because they would be used for many different scientific experiments. In 1952, using the HeLa cells, doctors develop a polio vaccine. This is a very good scientific breakthrough because there was no cure for polio before this so if you had gotten polio before this you wouldn't live. In 1954, Chester Southam begins doing experiments on patients without their informed consent (doing an experiment on a patient without telling them what you are doing). He put HeLa cells in patients to see if it would cause cancer. This was bad because it is now illegal to perform experiments without the patient's informed consent. In 1965, doctors merged HeLa cells with mouse cells creating the very first human-animal hybrid cells. This was very good scientific discovery because there hadn't been another human-animal cell hybrid before this. In 1971, for the first time they released Henrietta Lacks' real, full name on print. This was good because the media and really no one knew her real name before this.

"The Geys were determined to grow the first immortal human cells: a continuously dividing line of cells all descended from one original sample, cells that would constantly replenish themselves and never die." I chose this quote because George Gey discovering the first line of immortal cells was a huge scientific breakthrough. Many doctors including him went through many different cancer patients, searching them to see if they had immortal cells and none of them did except one; and her name was Henrietta Lacks. Her cells turned out to be immortal which means they can divide over and over again infinitely. This was huge because these were the first ever immortal human line of cells. Her cells were later used for many different scientific discoveries including cures for many different types of cancer and even a polio vaccine.

Created By
Christopher Scott


Created with images by skeeze - "hela cells cultured electron microscope"

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