Henrietta Lacks Was Born Loretta Pleasant

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Henrietta Lacks was born Loretta Pleasant on August 1st, 1920 to Eliza and John Randall Pleasant, in Roanoke, Virginia. It is uncertain how her name changed from Loretta to Henrietta. After her mother, Eliza, passed away giving birth to her tenth child in 1924 her father, John, distributed his children to relatives in Clover, Virginia. Henrietta ended up with her grandfather in a log cabin that previously had been slave quarters for a white ancestor’s plantation. Henrietta shared a room in the cabin with her cousin, David Lacks. In 1935, when Henrietta was 14 years of age, the cousins had their son Lawrence. Four years later the couple had Elsie their handicapped daughter, following her birth they proceeded to marry in 1941. In Maryland, where they moved at the urging of their cousin, they had three more children: David Jr., Deborah, and Joseph. At Johns Hopkins Hospital on January 29th, 1952, Physician Howard Jones quickly diagnosed Henrietta with cervical cancer. On October 4th, 1957, at the age of 31, Henrietta Lacks passed away at Johns Hopkins Hospital. A researcher George Gey was given the cells of Henrietta’s tumor for research. George Gey discovered that Henrietta’s cells were unique and did something by no means seen before; they could be kept alive and grow. Before Henrietta’s cells, cultured cells would only be able to survive a few days. More time was spent on observing and preserving Henrietta’s cells than actually using them for research. It was
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