WHO honors Henrietta Lax, a black woman who became “immortal” across the cell line



The World Health Organization (WHO) on Wednesday posthumously honored Henrietta Nex, a woman whose cells were taken without her knowledge and later contributed to important scientific milestones.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Gebreesus honored the American’s memory on Wednesday by presenting the WHO Director-General’s award. A black woman who died 70 years ago of cervical cancer had the first cells that were considered “immortal” or could multiply continuously.

Her cells, however, were taken by researchers without her awareness or consent – a controversy that caught the attention of the entire country after the publication of Rebecca Scloth’s “Immortal Life of Henrietta Deficiencies.”

Hebrews took the opportunity to reflect on the scientific contributions made by cell deficiencies — including the polio and human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines, the COVID-19 study, and the drugs against cancer and HIV — while recognizing racial injustice and injustice. these discoveries.

“In honor of Henrietta’s shortcomings, WHO recognizes the importance of addressing past scientific injustices and promoting racial equality in health and science,” Tedros said. said in the statement. “It’s also an opportunity to get to know women – especially colored ones – who have made incredible but often invisible contributions to medical science.”

Accepting the award in Geneva, Switzerland on behalf of his mother, Lawrence Lax Sr. called his mother a “beautiful woman” and a “pioneer”.

“We are delighted to receive this historic recognition from my mother, Henriette Lax – honoring who she was as a wonderful woman, and the enduring impact of her HeLa cells. My mother’s contributions, once hidden, are now rightly honored for their global impact, ”her eldest son said in a statement.

“My mother was a pioneer in life, giving to her community, helping others to live better and caring for others. After her death, she continues to help the world, ”he added. “Her legacy lives with us, and we thank you for naming her after Henrietta Nehvatka.”

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