The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

  • Term "eugenics" coined by Francis Galton

  • Johns Hopkins Hospital founded in Baltimore

    Its founder, Johns Hopkins, intended that the hospital serve poor and African American patients.
  • Sparrow's Point Steelworks Opens

    Sparrow's Point, the steel works where Day Lacks was employed starting in 1941, opens near Baltimore.
  • George Gey born

  • Immortal Chicken Heart

    Alexis Carrel purports to have grown an immortal chicken heart.
  • David "Day" Lacks both

    David Lacks, called "Day," was born in his grandfather's house in Clover, VA, 9 months after a travelling man, Johnny Coleman, passed through Clover. Day's grandfather, Tommy Lacks, raised Day after Day's mother left.
  • Henrietta Lacks Born

    Born Loretta Pleasant in Roanoke, VA
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    George and Martha Gey start and operate the Johns Hopkins tissue culture lab

    Gey was focussed on developing a line of immortal human cells.
  • Henrietta Lacks moves to Clover, VA

    Following her mother's death during childhood, Henrietta's father, Johnny Pleasant, moves all 10 of his children to his childhood home town, Clover VA. The siblings are divided among relatives; Henrietta goes to live with her grandfather, Tommy Lacks.
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    Tuskegee Study

    Over a 40 year period, nearly 400 African American men were observed without their knowledge by public health officials to determine the long-term effects of syphilis on the human body.
  • Period: to

    Nazi Death Camps in Operation

    Eugenics reaced its most horrific expression in the Nazi's Concentration Camps.
  • Lawrence Lacks born

    Henrietta's and Day's first son, Lawrence, was born in Clover days after Henrietta's 14th birthday.
  • Lucile Elsie Pleasant born

    Henrietta's and Day's first daughter, called Elsie, was born in Clover. Elsie had severe developmental and physical disabilities.
  • Pap Smear developed to detect cervical cancer

    Dr. George Papanicolaou, a Greek researcher, publishes a paper on a procedure for the early detection of cervical cancer.
  • Henrietta and Day marry

    Henrietta and Day marry in Clover.
  • Day moves to Baltimore to work at Sparrows Point

    Day preceded Henrietta and the children in moving to Baltimore, where he began working at the Sparrows Point steel factory.
  • First immortal mouse cells grown

  • Henrietta and Day's youngest child Joe born

  • Skloot visits Clover, VA

    Skloot travels to Clover, VA, where she meets Henrietta Lacks' first cousin Hecor Henry "Cootie" Lacks.
  • Henrietta Lacks visits Johns Hopkins Hospital

    Henrietta Lacks visits Dr. Howard Jones because she has detected a lump on her cervix. The doctor performs a biopsy (takes a sample of the cells to determine whether they are cancerous.
  • Henrietta diagnosed with cervical cancer

    Dr. Jones informs Henrietta Lacks that her biopsy indicated that she had cervical cancer.
  • Henrietta goes to Johns Hopkins for cancer treatment; cell samples taken without her consent

    Henrietta Lacks was treated with radium for cervical cancer. Before beginning treatment, her surgeon, Dr. Lawrence Wharton Jr., took two samples of cells from Henrietta's cervix. One sample was of healthy cells; the other was from the tumor.
  • Henrietta's cell samples sent to Gey tissue lab

    Mary Kubicek, George Gey's lab assistant, places samples of cells from Henrietta's cervix in culture medium and then into the roller drum.
  • Henrietta's cancer cells grow successfully in culture medium

    This was the beginning of the HeLa cell line.
  • Henrietta's healthy cells die in culture

  • Henrietta begins x-ray treatment for recurrence of cancer

  • George Gey announces Immortal Cell Line on TV

    Gey announces that the cell line may lead to a cure for cancer. Gey begins sending samples of cells to interested scientists and labs.
  • Henrietta believes the cancer is spreading

    Her doctors ignore her reports of the cancer's resurgence.
  • Henrietta admitted to Johns Hopkins for pain management

  • Henrietta's body taken over by tumors.

    Despite treatment and donation of blood by family and friends, Henrietta's cancer worsens.
  • Henrietta Lacks dies of metastasized cervical cancer

  • Rebecca Skloot first hears of the HeLa Cells

    While taking a community college biology class as a high school student, Rebecca Skloot first hears of HeLa and Henrietta Lacks.
  • Rebecca Skloot speaks by phone with Roland Pattillo

    After a few weeks, Patillo puts Skloot in touch with Henrietta Lacks' children and husband.
  • Rebecca Skloot visits Turner Station

    In an effort to meet Henrietta Lacks' surviving family, Rebecca Skloot travels to Turner Station, Baltimore. She is not successful in meeting the family, but does meet friends and acquaintences. Family suggest that Skloot travel to Clover, VA.