-- Unnamed son of Henrietta Lacks (right), whose cells were harvested without her knowledge as she died at age 31 from cervical cancer, in "the 'colored' ward of Johns Hopkins Hospital" in the early 1950s. Lacks' story is detailed in a New York Times review of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (2010) by Rebecca Skloot (below left), Assistant Professsor of English at the University of Memphis in Tennessee. According to the NYT review, Skloot tells how Lack's cells, named "HeLa" in recognition of the 1st and last names of the "poor and largely illiterate" donor, the great-great-granddaughter of slaves,
were used to learn how nuclear bombs affect humans, and to study herpes, leukemia, Parkinson's disease and AIDS.
Others "grew wealthy marketing" the cells, according to the review, even as Lacks' family remained poverty-stricken and, indeed, unaware for decades of her contribution to modern medicine.
Food for thought amid continuing debate on health care reform.