Celebrating Justice and Legacy: Descendants of Henrietta Lacks Reach Settlement Over HeLa Cells


August 2, 2023

Anxiously awaited, and long overdue!

In 1951, 31-year-old Henrietta Lacks, unknowingly made an indelible mark on medical science when her cervical cancer cells were taken without her consent during a routine medical procedure. Those cells, now famously known as HeLa cells, turned out to be exceptionally resilient and became the ticket to revolutionizing medical research and creating transformative medical treatments. 


For decades, the story of Henrietta Lacks remained untold, and the use of her cells without her knowledge or her family’s consent raised serious ethical concerns. However, her legacy endured, and in recent years, efforts to honor her contribution to science and seek justice for her family gained momentum. In 2017, her story was brought to life in a documentary starring Oprah. A few years later, her home state of Virginia honored her with a statue set to unveil October 2023.


The descendants of Henrietta Lacks and civil rights attorney Ben Crump have been fighting against biotech company Thermo Fisher Scientific who initially asked to have the case dismissed. Crump said in a statement earlier today, “I can think of no better present… than to give her family some measure of respect for Henrietta Lacks, some measure of dignity for Henrietta Lacks, and most of all some measure of justice for Henrietta Lacks,” 

Today both parties have finally reached a settlement in the legal battle over the unauthorized use of her HeLa cells. The story of Henrietta Lacks and the groundbreaking HeLa cells is one that has captivated the world, and this recent development brings closure and recognition to her family’s enduring journey. Although the settlement is confidential, we are proud to see the family get their overdue justice. What a momentous way to celebrate the103rd birthday of Ms. Lacks. 


Cover photo: Celebrating Justice and Legacy: Descendants of Henrietta Lacks Reach Settlement Over HeLa Cells/Photo Courtesy of AP Photo/Steve Ruark

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