Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Greatest Gift
20/20 Brings You Heartwarming Stories of Hope This Holiday Season

Dec. 17, 2007 —

Within hours of Katie Trebing's birth Dec. 12, 2002, she needed a blood transfusion to save her life -- the first of many to come.

Steve and Stacy Trebing's daughter was born with Diamond Blackfan Anemia, a rare bone marrow disease that affects just 30 out of 4 million births each year in North America. Stacy will never forget the day her pediatrician broke the news.

"I remember vividly being in his office, holding Katie, and him saying, 'OK, you're gonna be tied to hospitals for the rest of your life.'"

Katie's body wasn't making any red blood cells to carry oxygen to her organs, and never would. She needed transfusions every three to four weeks or she would die. But that treatment came with devastating side effects, drastically shortening Katie's life span. More than 40 percent of transfusion therapy patients die before they turn 40.

There was just one way to cure Katie -- a bone marrow transplant from a perfectly matched sibling. Her older brother, Calvin, was not a match and the Trebings learned about a process of testing embryos called pre-implantation genetic diagnosis. The outcome would ensure their next child and Katie shared the same bone marrow DNA.

Some critics say PGD creates children for "spare parts." For Steve and Stacy, the technology meant a healthy sibling added to their family and the chance for Katie to have a normal life, but there was a dark side. A bone marrow transplant was a perilous operation: It would either cure their daughter or kill her.

Friday on "20/20" you'll see how far this family was willing to go to keep their daughter from a lifetime of suffering, and the events that swayed their decision on whether to create the perfect sibling.

And, find out how you can give the greatest gift to a child this holiday season.

Teachers spend more than $1 billion a year on supplies for their classrooms. That is an astonishing number for these underpaid public servants, and yet they still don't have everything their classrooms need.

A Web site called DonorsChoose.org is bringing help to classrooms around the country that require anything from the most basic supplies to the most innovative teaching tools. From pencils to computers to field trips, teachers post their unique requests on the site and donors can select which proposal they want to fulfill.

It sounds simple, and it is, but since founder Charles Best started the nonprofit seven years ago, more than $15 million has been funded. Not only are teachers getting the essentials that they need, but donors are fulfilled as well.

"When they're happy, they start bouncing around like a little rabbit and you just laugh because of their joy," said a fifth-grade student whose school participated in a fundraiser in the spring that earned $5,000 for DonorsChoose.

Watch these inspiring stories of "The Greatest Gift" Friday on "20/20" at 10 p.m. ET.

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