A special showing of “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” is scheduled for 6 p.m. Friday in the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences at Whiteville.
Hosted by North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, doors open at 5:30 p.m. for the free showing and following discussion held in recognition of Black History Month.
The film is rated TV-MA and intended for mature audiences only. Free snacks and drinks will be provided.
This HBO-original film released in 2017 depicts the discovery by Henrietta’s daughter, played by Oprah Winfrey, that her mother’s cancer cells had been used without her permission for medical research and explores the broader implications of this breach of medical ethics.
In 1951, a young mother of five named Henrietta Lacks was treated for cancer at Johns Hopkins, one of the few hospitals at the time that would treat Black people. “Her cancer cells were discovered to be unique: where other cells would die, Lacks’ cells doubled daily and indefinitely. Although Lacks ultimately passed away later that year, these “HeLa” cells have been and continue to be used in experiments from determining the long-term effects of radiation to developing the COVID-19 vaccine,” according to information from the museum. “However, Lacks and her family didn’t know the cell cultures existed until more than 20 years after her death. And these cells were commercialized and have generated millions of dollars in profit over the past 70 years for the medical researchers who patented her tissue.”
After the film, there will be a discussion of medical ethics and racism led by Ms. Black North Carolina 2023, Tatyana Frink-Faulk. She is also a Chadbourn native and current medical student at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill.
The North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, at 415 South Madison St., Whiteville, is a free science museum with interactive exhibits, outdoor learning and play areas, and collections featuring the nature of Southeastern North Carolina.
Museum hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. The museum provides group tours and classes, public events and programs, and rental space. Contact the Museum at 910-788-5100 for more information.