BALTIMORE (WJZ) — “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks,” a film about the Baltimore County woman whose cells were used to create what’s considered the first immortal human cell line, premieres on HBO Saturday at 8 p.m.
Oprah Winfrey stars in the film as Deborah Lacks, the daughter of the Turners Station resident who died of cervical cancer at Johns Hopkins Hospital in 1951.
Henrietta Lacks’s cells, which were collected without her or her family’s knowledge from a piece of her tumor, have led to several breakthroughs in medical science.
Before HeLa, which is what the cell line is widely known by in the medical community, cells that had been cultured from other human cells would only survive for a few days.
HeLa cells were used to test the first polio vaccine, and were the first human cells to be cloned. They have been used in countless experiments, including research on cancer, HIV and the effects of radiation.
The film follows Deborah’s search to find out more about her mother’s life.
The film is based on a non-fiction book, “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” by Rebecca Skloot. Rose Byrne plays Skloot in the film.
Johns Hopkins says they applaud efforts to raise awareness of the life and story of Henrietta Lacks.