Henrietta Lacks Biography

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Early life (1920–1940) Henrietta Lacks was born Loretta Pleasant on August 1, 1920[1][3] in Roanoke, Virginia, to Eliza (1886–1924)[4] and John Randall Pleasant I (1881–1969).[5][6][7] Her family is uncertain how her name changed from Loretta to Henrietta.[1] Eliza, her mother, died giving birth to her tenth child in 1924. Henrietta's father felt unable to handle the children, so he took them all to Clover, Virginia and distributed the children among relatives. Henrietta, nicknamed Hennie, ended up with her grandfather, Tommy Lacks.[1] Later life (1941–1950) Pleasant married her first cousin, David "Day" Lacks (1915–2002), in Halifax County, Virginia. David had already been living with Henrietta's grandfather when she moved there at…show more content…
1935), Elsie (1939–1955), David "Sonny" Jr. (b. 1947), Deborah (1949–2009), and Joseph (b. 1950, later changed name to Zakariyya Bari Abdul Rahman). Joseph Lacks, Henrietta's last child, was born at Johns Hopkins Hospital in November 1950, just four and a half months before Henrietta was diagnosed with cancer.[1] Elsie was described by the family as "different", "deaf and dumb" and in 1955 died in the Hospital for the Negro Insane (which was later renamed Crownsville Hospital Center and was also known as Crownsville State Hospital). Elsie had been placed there about 1950, around the same time Henrietta discovered that she had lumps and unusual…show more content…
Her exact burial location is not known, although the family believes it is within feet of her mother's gravesite.[1] Lackstown is the name of the land that has been held by the (black) Lacks family since they received it from the (white) Lacks family, who had owned the ancestors of the black Lackses when slavery was legal. Many members of the black Lacks family were also descended from the white Lacks family. A row of boxwoods separates the graves of whites from those of the blacks buried in the family cemetery.[1] For decades, Henrietta Lacks' mother had the only tombstone of the five graves in the family cemetery in Lackstown, and Henrietta's own grave was unmarked. [11][12] In 2010, however, Dr. Roland Pattillo of the Morehouse School of Medicine donated a headstone for Lacks after reading The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. [13] The headstone, which is shaped like a book, reads: Henrietta Lacks, August 01, 1920-October 04, 1951. In loving memory of a phenomenal woman, wife and mother who touched the lives of many. Here lies Henrietta Lacks (HeLa). Her immortal cells will continue to help mankind forever. Eternal Love and Admiration, From Your Family[14][13]

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