The inspiration of a book and HBO movie will now have her portrait featured in the Smithsonian’s 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.
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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