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Katherine Marie Heigl was born in Washington D.C, USA on the 24th of November 1978 to parents Nancy and Paul. Like many Americans, the Heigl's moved often: first to New Jersey, then to Washington; Denver, before heading north to settle in Connecticut.
The Heigl family - which included elder siblings Meg, Jason and Holt - moved to a large, old Colonial-style farmhouse in a wealthy neighborhood of New Canaan, Connecticut. It was there that Katherine was to spend the majority of her childhood.
The youngest member of her family, Katherine, or “Katie” as she is known affectionately, enjoyed a classic family life. Holidays were large family events; Christmas was celebrated with particular fervour and flair. Katherine would make gifts for her family ranging from bookmarks to scarves and personalized poetry.
In 1986 tragedy struck, when Katherine’s 15 year old brother Jason died of brain injuries suffered in a car accident, after being thrown from the back of a pickup truck. When doctors determined Jason was brain-dead following an 8-hour operation, the family made the difficult decision to donate his organs to help save others. The Heigl family were never in any doubt that Jason would have wanted his organs and tissues donated for transplant.
Not only did this painful chapter give Katherine a greater perspective and appreciation for life, it also motivated her to use her celebrity to promote the importance of organ donation.
"It's hard for people to be thinking about organ donation for the first time in the midst of crisis," said Katherine in an interview for Spotlight Health in May 2002. "But organ donation is the most honorable way to preserve the memory of someone you love. I learned through difficult experience that this is the right and humanitarian thing to do. The need is always out there. Make sure the people around you know your feelings on organ donation, so your loved ones can fulfill those wishes without any doubt."