Globe - June 13, 2005

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Katherine Heigl - Grey's Anatomy

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 idolized him."

"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 wanted.

"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."

Article by Tim Plant