June 4, 1997 - Issue: Vol. 143, No. 75 — Daily Edition105th Congress (1997 - 1998) - 1st Session
IN MEMORY OF HENRIETTA LACKS
(Extensions of Remarks - June 04, 1997)
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[Extensions of Remarks] [Page E1109] From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov] IN MEMORY OF HENRIETTA LACKS ______ HON. ROBERT L. EHRLICH, JR. of maryland in the house of representatives Wednesday, June 4, 1997 Mr. EHRLICH. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to pay tribute to Henrietta Lacks, a woman whose contributions to medical science and research have gone relatively unnoticed for the past 46 years. Ms. Lacks provided a crucial sample of cells that has furthered our knowledge of medical science and disease prevention, and for this contribution, we are all grateful. Henrietta Lacks was born in 1920 in Clover, VA. At the age of 23 she moved to Turner's Station, near Baltimore, MD, joining her husband David. She had five children, four of whom--Deborah, David Jr., Lawrence, and Zakariyya--still survive. Ms. Lacks was known as pleasant and smiling, and always willing to lend a helping hand. After the birth of her fifth child, Ms. Lacks was admitted to the hospital at Johns Hopkins University where she was found to have cervical cancer. Before her death, she donated a tumor biopsy section which became the first human cell line to survive outside the body. This cell line has proven instrumental to medical research. Due to traditional patient confidentiality requirements, Ms. Lacks was not acknowledged as the donor of the cells. Instead, the donor remained anonymous, and the cell line was known only as the HeLa cells. Under the care of Dr. George O. Gey, the cells flourished due to his innovative methods of preserving them. Dr. Gey went on to cultivate more cells which could be used for a variety of medical research. These cells proved instrumental in polio research, and they helped establish the fields of molecular biology and virology. Henrietta Lacks' cells are still used in research today, more than four decades after her death. Henrietta Lacks' selfless contribution to the field of medicine has gone without acknowledgment for too long. Her cells made her immortal: through her death, countless others have been saved by the research that was made possible through her cell line. It is for this reason that I extend my deepest thanks to Henrietta Lacks and her family. I sincerely hope her name will also be immortalized as one of courage, hope, and strength, and that due recognition will be given to her role in medicine and science. ____________________