FILE PHOTO: The HeLa Project Exhibit For "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks" on April 6, 2017 in New York City. The portrait will soon hang in the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images for HBO)
Photo: Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images for HBO
Photo: Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images for HBO

Henrietta Lacks portrait to be installed at National Portrait Gallery

Henrietta Lacks was diagnosed with cervical cancer. She died in 1951. After she passed away, doctors at Johns Hopkins Hospital took her cells for research. But doctors took them without her family’s permission or knowledge, The Baltimore Sun reported.

They were labeled HeLa Cancer cells and were able to survive outside the body and have been shared to labs all over the United States. They were used in research for the polio vaccine, cloning and in-vitro fertilization techniques, Smithsonian Magazine reported.

HBO produced a film about Lacks’ life called “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” with Oprah Winfrey portraying Lacks’ daughter and based on the book by Rebecca Skloot.

The portrait, which was commissioned by HBO, will hang in the Smithsonian on May 15 and was painted and donated by Kadir Nelson. It has a floral motif, including the “Flower of Life” background, the flowers on her dress mimic cell structures and two missing buttons represent her missing cells, the Sun reported.

The painting will remain on display at the museum until Nov. 4.

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