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Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, The

Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, The

Photo Credit: Quantrell D. Colbert/HBO
Air Date Rating Share Against the
Saturday, April 22, 2017 N/A
(Click any date to see TV listings for that day)
  • Season: 2016-2017
  • Network: HBO
  • Genre: Drama
  • Category: Movies
  • Subject Matter: True Story, Medical/Disease/Mental Illness, Black Story, Period Piece
  • Based On: Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, The written by Rebecca Skloot

Buy This Show on DVD or Watch Online

  • Amazon
Legal Full Movie
Not Available Online
(That We Know Of)

Plot Synopsis

Based on the book by Rebecca Skloot. In 1951, a vibrant African-American woman was dying of cervical cancer at age 31. Under the bright lights of an operating room, surgeons harvested cells from her tumor that would prove to be astonishingly immortal and would change the face of medicine forever. Yet she, and any recognition of her involuntary donation, would long remain unknown. Her daughter, Deborah Lacks aided by journalist Rebecca Skloot, set out to learn about the mother she never knew and to understand how the unauthorized harvesting of Henrietta's cancerous cells led to unprecedented medical breakthroughs, creating a medical revolution that changed countless lives. In 1951, Henrietta Lack, a married mother of five, under treatment at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, tissue from her malignant cervical tumor is removed without her knowledge or that of her family, as was standard practice of the day. Her tissue is given to Dr. George Gey, who, at Johns Hopkins, had been trying for nearly 30 years to grow an immortal cell line. Up until this time, no one was able to grow human cells in the culture of a petri dish. However, Lacks' cells, multiplying at a feverish pace and accelerating the deadly cancer inside her body, continued to grow, inexplicably and multiply outside her body in laboratory conditions. What started as a doctor's curiosity leads to the birth of the biomedical industry and the use of what was known as HeLa cells in tens of thousands of research studies over the years, from the development of drugs for polio, leukemia, influenza and Parkinson's disease, to cloning and gene mapping. Lacks' cells have been bought and sold by the billions and continue to exist and multiply today. Science journalist Rebecca Skloot spent ten years researching the story behind the HeLa cells, trying to bring Lacks' story to light and her efforts to win the trust of the Lacks family and join Henrietta's daughter, Deborah, as they set out to discover the woman whose silent contribution changed the world.


Production Company:

  • Harpo Films, Your Face Goes Here Entertainment, Cine Mosaic Productions

Production Type:

  • Independent
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