Owings Mills' Lawrence Lacks Sr. Dead At 88 Following Legal Battle Over Mother’s Pioneering HeLa Cells
OWINGS MILLS - Lawrence Lacks Sr., the last surviving son of Henrietta Lacks, has died at the age of 88. His funeral took place this Wednesday at Faith Christian Fellowship in Owings Mills.
His passing comes shortly after his family settled a legal dispute with a biotechnology firm over utilizing his mother's unique cells.
Henrietta Lacks, an African-American mother of five, made an unintended but monumental contribution to science when she sought treatment for cervical cancer at The Johns Hopkins Hospital in 1951.
During her treatment, a sample of her cancer cells was collected by Dr. George Gey. The cells displayed the unprecedented ability to multiply and survive in a laboratory setting. Although she lost her battle with cancer that same year at the age of 31, her cells, known as "HeLa" cells, have since played a pivotal role in medical research.
HeLa cells have been instrumental in various scientific advancements, including the development of vaccines for polio and COVID-19.
Henrietta Lacks was never informed that her cells were being used for research, a practice that, while accepted in the 1950s, would not be permitted today without patient consent.
Lawrence Lacks Sr. was a vocal advocate for the ethical treatment of his mother's contributions to science, and his death marks the end of a significant chapter in this ongoing story.