Stephen Colbert Asks Rebecca Skloot To Help Him Live Forever

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Last night on Colbert, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks author Rebecca Skloot explained how an African-American woman’s cells were immortalized after she got cervical cancer in 1951. Of course, Stephen was more interested in his cells living forever.

Unlike Stephen, Henrietta Lacks didn’t want a piece of her to live forever; her doctor removed a chunk of her tumor without her permission and used it to produce the first immortal human cell line grown in culture.

Lacks’ cells have gone on to be used in the development of the polio vaccine, were some of the first cells cloned, and were taken on early space missions. While companies made billions using her cells, today Lacks’ descendants can’t afford health insurance. Stephen jokes, “Can they afford irony insurance?”

The Immortal Life Of Henrietta Lacks

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