The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks is a book about a woman who was used by medical science without her consent or knowledge.

Imagine your grandmother’s cells were taken, used to advance the world of science and made the industry millions. Now imagine you had no clue these cells were YOUR grandmother’s and your family discovers the tremendous value of the cells decades later, with no compensation. This is the story of Henrietta Lacks and her family.

On Thursday, February 15, 2018 Henrietta Lacks’ grandson and great-granddaughter sat with us to share the story of the Lacks’ family, their strength and bond. “Sometimes bad things happen to good people for better things to happen to others.” says Veronica Robinson. They are aware of the unethical practice that happened to to their grandmother but they are happy to see that her cells have played an integral part in others’ lives. Concerning doctors’s visits these days, Robinson says many times a younger Lacks will go with an older Lacks, so if there is something the older Lacks doesn’t understand, the younger Lacks will ask the doctor questions to further explain.

Alfred Carter says Henrietta was a loving woman who would cook and feed family and non-family members. When asked about the book he said Lacks wasn’t poor and ignorant like how she was portrayed in the book and neither was Debra, Lacks’ daughter and Carter’s mother.

Veronica Robinson is now a nursing student and says that many women in the Lacks family have careers in science and medicine. One thing she believes Lacks would say if she were still alive today would be, keep pushing and just because one bad thing happens to you doesn’t mean it’s over because you can overcome anything.

Carter now runs a non-profit for men in transition from incarceration called the Henrietta Lacks House.

Check out the Legacy Museum’s exhibit dedicated to Henrietta Lacks on Tuskegee University’s campus.