The Immortal Cells of Henrietta Lacks

Witness History

By BBC World Service

The Immortal Cells of Henrietta Lacks

Wednesday, 17 February

The story of an African American woman who played a largely unsung role in countless medical breakthroughs over more than half a century. Henrietta Lacks had cells taken from her body in 1951 when she was suffering from cancer. Those cells were found to be unique in a most particular way. They continued to reproduce endlessly in the laboratory. Culture from those cells have since been used in thousands of scientific experiments. But as Farhana Haider reports, Henrietta herself was never asked if her cells could be used in medical research. (Photo: Henrietta Lacks. Copyright: Lacks Family)
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