Henrietta Lacks’s family wants compensation for her cells
Lacks’s son says Johns Hopkins should compensate the family for mom’s cells.
“The eldest son of Henrietta Lacks wants compensation from Johns Hopkins University and possibly others for the unauthorized use of her cells in research that led to decades of medical advances.
Lawrence Lacks said that he is the executor of his mother’s estate and that an agreement that the National Institutes of Health made with other family members over the years regarding the use of the cells was not valid. That agreement did not include compensation.
The cells taken from the 31-year-old from Turners Station, Md., after she died of an aggressive form of cervical cancer in 1951 were the first to live outside the body in a glass tube. They were dubbed the HeLa cells and have become the most widely used human cells that exist in scientific research.
Vaccines, cancer treatments and in vitro fertilization are among the many medical techniques derived from her cells.
“My mother would be so proud that her cells saved lives,” Lawrence Lacks said in a statement. “She’d be horrified that Johns Hopkins profited while her family to this day has no rights.”