As we are getting very close to a well-deserved winter break, I wanted to share an extraordinary story with you about how historical research uncovered the life and family history of one woman’s immortal cells. Henrietta Lacks was an African-American woman whose cells reproduced in laboratories when no others would. They have become the basis of many medical innovations, and have also played a role in medical research into the current pandemic.
However, until a few years ago, neither Lacks nor her descendants knew about her crucial role, as her cells were harvested without her consent. Despite her enormous significance for medical research, some members of her family struggled to get health insurance, as one interviewee pointed out. Her family learned about the both sad and significant medical history of their ancestor when a historian researching the history of Lacks’ cells contacted them. The BBC’s short video highlights the aftermath of the discovery of her amazing cells, her untimely death from cancer, her family’s discovery of her long legacy and their current engagement with medical research facilitated by their ancestor. It is an important story well worth watching over the holidays.