Lawmakers honor Henrietta Lacks with family in attendance

By Gene Petriello - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - On Tuesday, family and friends of Henrietta Lacks were at the General Assembly, as both the House and Senate honored the woman who died years ago of cervical cancer.

But to this day, her life is alive, by helping thousands of people in the medical world.

We showed you just one of many iconic pictures, of a woman who leaves an iconic legacy to this day. Henrietta Lacks and her contributions to the world go back about 60 years.

You could see it on the faces of her family here in Richmond today -- this is one day they'll never forget. "It's extraordinary. It's a miracle. It's incredible," says Lacks granddaughter Kimberly.

Incredible indeed. Lacks died from cervical cancer back in the 1950s. Unknowing to her, a doctor took samples of her cells. Those cells, called HeLa cells, that continue to reproduce today and are used to cure and treat so many suffering from diseases.

"We always hear of HeLa, HeLa, HeLa. But, you never hear of Henrietta Lacks. The woman, the mother, the grandmother."

That is why today, inside the walls of the House and Senate, a resolution was read and sponsored by Delegate Jeion Ward. "A source of pride and celebration not just for African Americans but because her life and contributions will become a celebration for all man kind," adds Del. Ward.

The resolution was signed by every member of the General Assembly.

The Lacks family has never been paid for this miracle. Some may think tough to swallow since her son David, doesn't even have health care right now. "Anything they'd contribute to the Lacks family. Just getting health insurance would be nice right now."

While that works itself out, a new book is out about his mother and her contributions to medical world, nearly 60 years later. "I'm just happy I am apart of this legacy," adds Kimberly.

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