Henrietta Lacks Family Reaches Settlement With Company Using Her Cells

The descendants of Henrietta Lacks have reached a settlement with Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc. after suing the company for using her cells without her knowledge or consent in 2021.

In 1951, Lacks sought treatment for cervical cancer at Johns Hopkins Hospital, and doctors took samples of her tumor’s tissue without her knowledge.

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Her cells, known as “HeLa cells,” have been used by over 100 companies for research purposes, including the development of the COVID-19 vaccine and polio vaccine.

Civil rights attorney Ben Crump represented the family in their fight for compensation, and while the details of the settlement are confidential, after negotiations, the company agreed to pay the family an undisclosed amount both parties are pleased with the outcome.

Alfred Lacks Carter Jr., the Lacks grandson said, “It couldn’t have been a more fitting day for her to have justice, for her family to have relief.” He continued, “It was a long fight, over 70 years, and Henrietta Lacks gets her day.”