Alllll my bosses skipped out early and I had done all I was gonna do before I spent several days not giving work a second thought, I was just here spinning around in my chair and I took a long lunch and personally hand walked things over to people that I normally woulda just scanned because OHMYGAHIAMSOFAKINGBORRRRED, but THEN I remembered that my job had been stalking me because HEY WE NEED BLOOD AND WE HEARD YOU HAVE THE GOOD SH*T AND IF YOU COULD JUST SPARE SOME WE’LL GIVE YOU A MOVIE TICKET. And generally there’s a raffle, but they were BEGGING BEGGING so strictly quid pro quo. [<- – – did you need a definition? Because I linked one here] One blood for one ticket.


Normally, I don’t have to enter a raffle when I donate ‘cause I DO in fact have that good good (blood. Although…never mind) and my blood is given to patients with particular blood disorders who can only receive blood from people with specific blood types and markers. And all I did to find this out was donate. They did all the type matching and checking for fancy stuff and then they ASKED ME if I would agree to being in this program to help patients.  That’s as specific as I can get because “Mitochondria is the power-house of the cell” is really as scientific as I can get at any given point in time. I AM NON-CLINICAL STAFF, YOU GUYS. I DON’T *HAVE* TO SCIENCE. BUT I’M *GONNA* (sorta) SCIENCE BECAUSE THAT IS THE PERFECT LEAD TO TODAY’S BHFOTD, which is…Loretta Pleasant.



Loretta Pleasant was born to Eliza and Johnny Pleasant August 1, 1920. Nobody (??) seems to know when her name changed from Loretta to HENRIETTA, but did you know that Hennessy was created in 1765? *she was nicknamed Hennie. When Henrietta was 4, her mother died giving birth to her 10th (10th!!!) child and her father moved the family to Virginia where the family was distributed among family. Henrietta ended up with her grandfather, Tommy Lacks, and shared a room with her cousin/future husband David Lacks. They married and moved to Maryland in 1941.

In 1951, Henrietta Lacks went to Johns Hopkins, the only hospital in the area that treated black patients, because she felt a “knot” in her womb. She had told her cousins previously about said knot and they assumed correctly that she was pregnant. But after giving birth, things did NOT get better. She went back to Johns Hopkins where her MD took a biopsy of the mass on Lacks’ cervix and was told she had malignant epidermoid carcinoma of the cervix. [in 1970, physicians discovered they’d misdiagnosed and she had an adenocarcinoma, but this would not have changed treatment options] She was treated with radium tube inserts and discharged with instructions to return for x-ray treatments. During her treatments, two samples were taken from Lacks’ cervix WITHOUT HER PERMISSION OR KNOWLEDGE (healthy tissue/cancerous tissue) and given to George Otto Gey, an MD and cancer researcher at Johns Hopkins. The cells from the cancerous sample eventually became known as the HeLa immortal cell line, a commonly used cell line in contemporary biomedical research.


George Otto Gey, the first researcher to study Lacks’s cancerous cells, observed that her cells were unique in that they reproduced at a very high rate and could be kept alive long enough to allow more in-depth examination. Lacks’s cells were the first to be observed that could be divided multiple times without dying, which is why they became known as “immortal.” Gey was able to start a cell line from Lacks’s sample by isolating one specific cell and repeatedly dividing it, meaning that the same cell could then be used for conducting many experiments. They became known as HeLa cells, because Gey’s standard method for labeling samples was to use the first two letters of the patient’s first and last names.

The ability to rapidly reproduce HeLa cells in a laboratory setting has led to many important breakthroughs in biomedical research. SUCH AS:

Jonas Salk using HeLa cells to develop the polio vaccine.

Research into cancer, AIDS, effects of radiation and toxic substances, and gene mapping.

Testing human sensitivity to tape, glue, cosmetics, etc.



HeLa cells were the first human cells successfully cloned in 1955.

Since the 1950s, scientists have grown as much as 50 million metric tons of her cells, and there are almost 11,000 patents involving HeLa cells.


ANYWAY. Neither Henrietta Lacks nor her family gave her physicians permission to harvest her cells. At that time, permission was neither required nor customarily sought. And I’m pretty sure this had nothing AT ALL to do with her being a black woman in the 50’s. I’ve skipped over a lot of things because this is getting long BUT. In March 2013, researchers published the DNA sequence of the genome of a strain of HeLa cells. There were objections from the Lacks family about the genetic information that was available for public access. In August 2013, an agreement was announced between the family and the NIH (National Institutes of Health) that gave the family some control over access to the cells’ DNA sequence found in the two studies along with a promise of acknowledgement in scientific papers. In addition, two family members will join the six-member committee which will regulate access to the sequence data.




ON MY BORN DAY, 1996, Morehouse School of Medicine shamed Johns Hopkins held its first annual HeLa Women’s Health Conference. Led by physician Roland Pattillo, the conference is held to give recognition to Henrietta Lacks, her cell line, and “the valuable contribution made by African Americans to medical research and clinical practice” [Chile. Can’t nobody shade you like southern Black folk]. The mayor of Atlanta declared the date of the first conference, October 11, 1996, “Henrietta Lacks Day”


Some other stuff happened here, but again. This is getting long and I have things to do.


In 2010, the Johns Hopkins Institute for Clinical and Translational Research established the annual Henrietta Lacks Memorial Lecture Series to honor Henrietta Lacks and the global impact of HeLa cells on medicine and research.


AND THEN. On October 6, 2018, Johns Hopkins University announced plans to name a research building in honor of Lacks at the 9th annual Henrietta Lacks memorial Lecture surrounded by several of Lacks’ descendants. “Through her life and her immortal cells, Henrietta Lacks made an immeasurable impact on science and medicine that has touched countless lives around the world,” Daniels said. “This building will stand as a testament to her transformative impact on scientific discovery and the ethics that must undergird its pursuit. We at Johns Hopkins are profoundly grateful to the Lacks family for their partnership as we continue to learn from Mrs. Lacks’ life and to honor her enduring legacy.” The building will adjoin the Berman Institute of Bioethics’ Deering Hall, located at the corner of Ashland and Rutland Avenues and “will support programs that enhance participation and partnership with members of the community in research that can benefit the community, as well as extend the opportunities to further study and promote research ethics and community engagement in research through an expansion of the Berman Institute and its work.”


**closes Wikipedia**


And so there you have the story of how a black woman has been/is saving [what’s left of] the world.  And per usual was getting NO CREDIT. The End.



*TO BE FAIR, her great-grandpa and great-uncle were rapists slave owners so maybe it’s possible they knew what henny was? No?