20th century woman who made great contributions to the medical field through the donation of her cells. A biopsy taken during cervical cancer treatment resulted in cells that produced indefinitely under certain conditions and became the first immortalized cell line. It was called the HeLa line and has continued to be a source of medical data for over 65 years.
She was born and raised in Roanoke, Virginia and would later move to Maryland with her husband and family. She died of cervical cancer in 1951.
Neither she nor her family were asked for consent or compensated for the extraction of her cells or their use. When her family became aware of what had happened, the ensuing backlash raised many questions about patients' rights and privacy.
She married her cousin David "Day" Lacks and the two had five children together.