Well we should have. Research on her cells have saved millions of lives.
Ms. Henrietta Lacks’ cells are now known to the world as HeLa cells. HeLa cells are cells derived from a cell line harvested from Ms. Lacks cervical cancer tumor in 1951, without her knowledge. Her cells have been tested on repeatedly for 59 years and counting because they have never stopped dividing and reproducing.
HeLa cells are credited towards the development of the polio vaccine and scientific breakthroughs, such as cloning, in vitro fertilization, chemotherapy, and gene mapping. HeLa cells were also used in the first space missions to study the effect of zero gravity on cells.
The story of Henrietta Lacks and her descendents can be found in a new book by author Rebecca Skloot, “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks”.