Pretty Katherine Heigl gets to cure patients in her role as Dr.
Izzie Stevens, but doctors couldnít save her from heartbreak
when her teenage brother Jason died.
In 1986, tragedy struck Heigl, then 7, and her family when
Jason was thrown from the back of a pickup truck and suffered
life-threatening brain injuries.
The teen was rushed to a hospital where doctors desperately
tried to save his life in an eight hour operation. But it was in
vain. Doctors finally had to give the family the shattering news
- Jason was brain-dead.
"The days surrounding Jasonís accident were incredibly
difficult for Katherine and her family," a friend of the star
tells GLOBE. "Jason was Katherineís older brother and she
"They all loved Jason so much. It was as if a part of them
died that day."
The Heiglís made the difficult decision to donate Jasonís
organs to help save others, which they knew Jason would have
"Katherine and the rest of her family knew what a good person
he was," the friend continues. "He would have done anything to
help other people."
Later, Heigl and her mom appeared on an episode of Crossing
Over with John Edward, the psychic who tries to help families
contact loved ones from beyond the grave.
Now, the 26-year-old former model uses her celebrity status
to promote the importance of organ donation.
"Itís hard for people to be thinking about organ donation for
the first time in the midst of a crisis," says Katherine.
"But organ donation is the most honorable way to preserve the
memory of someone you love. I learned through a difficult
experience that this is the right and humanitarian thing to do."