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Oprah Winfrey and the Immortal Reach of Henrietta Lacks

By Yanick Rice Lamb 

Deborah Lacks grew up without her mother, who died when she was only 2 years old. Her longing for details about her mother’s life is a key aspect of the new HBO film The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, with Oprah Winfrey as co-star and an executive producer.

Henrietta Lacks’ life was cut short at age 31 after a debilitating bout with cervical cancer. However, her cells have lived on as a medical gift that keeps on giving—without her knowledge or consent. The film, adapted from Rebecca Skloot’s best-selling book of the same name, depicts the multiplier effect of Lacks’ cells on her family, other African Americans, science, medical ethics, and the birth of the multi-billion-dollar biotech industry. Continue reading

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