It’s a shame that since Henrietta Lacks’ death in 1951, her family hasn’t received one phone call about compensation for the use of her cells to medical science.
First, the polio vaccine was created, thanks to her cells, in 1955. The very same year, her daughter Elsie Lacks, passed away at age 15 at Crownsville Hospital Center. No word from Johns Hopkins.
This family has been denied health insurance since Mrs. Lacks’ death; her husband David Lacks, Sr. in 2002; her daughter Deborah Lacks Pullman in 2009; and just a few short weeks ago, her youngest son Zakaniyya Ban Abdal Rahman (born Joseph Lacks). Not one phone call from Johns Hopkins to offer any services to the family.
Within a week after Zakaniyya’s death, Johns Hopkins announced that they are creating a COVID-19 vaccine, once again using Henrietta’s cells and not one phone call has been made to the remaining family members – her two sons, Lawrence and David, Jr.
How long should Johns Hopkins be allowed to use this family without their consent, just as they took her cells from her cervix without her knowledge, and have been used for decades to save mankind? Henrietta may be the “mother of modern medicine,” but what about this mother and the last two sons of her legacy?
Us as mankind, who benefitted off Mrs. Lacks’ cells, owe her and her family our lives. Any type of compensation would never be enough to pay off our debt. In mercy from God, and continued use of Mrs. Lacks of His gift of her immortal cells, we need Johns Hopkins to pay her credit where it has been long overdue.
Protect this patient. Protect this legacy.