Nearly every human on earth has benefited from the life of Henrietta Lacks, but few people even know her name. Thankfully, an upcoming television film from HBO is looking to change that. Based on a book of the same name, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks chronicles the life of an African American mother who was diagnosed with cervical cancer in 1951. During treatment, doctors discovered Lacks’ cells showed no signs of a Hayflick limit, or point where the cells can no long divide due to DNA damage. This medical breakthrough would later lead to the creation of a polio vaccine, as well as revolutionize medical research on cancer and AIDS.
Sadly though, Lacks herself was largely ignored by medical professionals and historians. Both the book and the film are hoping to rectify this by spotlighting the ethical issues of race and class discrimination in medical research. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks is set to premiere on April 22, with Oprah Winfrey starring as Lacks’ daughter Deborah.
You can check out the first trailer from HBO below!