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Extraordinary Parent Contest Winner and Finalists

Aired December 24, 2008 - 20:00:00   ET


NANCY GRACE, HOST: After thousands of entries and weeks and weeks of featuring their heartfelt and truly inspiring stories, it was hard choosing just one winner. But now listen to the story of Linda Dolezan and her newborn son, Ryan, mother and son taking on the fight of their lives against cancer and leukemia together.

LINDA DOLEZAN, EXTRAORDINARY PARENT WINNER: Ryan was born on June 6, 2005, with Down syndrome, a complete AV canal heart defect and a blood disorder.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: After weeks in the neonatal unit, newborn Ryan Dolezan got to come home for the first time. But things soon turned for the worse not just for baby Ryan, but for his mother, Linda, too.

DOLEZAN: On the 25th of October, I was diagnosed with breast cancer.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just as Linda was about to undergo a double mastectomy, she learned her son had leukemia.

DOLEZAN: I had people pushing me forward, saying, Don`t give up, Ryan needs you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: With the support of friends and family, mother and son would struggle through surgery, chemotherapy and recovery together.

DOLEZAN: One thing that I`ve learned by going through this, no matter how tough the challenges are that you face, to never give up hope.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Nearly two years later, both mother and son are doing well.

DOLEZAN: Today, we`re both doing great. It was a tough thing, but we got through it.


GRACE: With the support of their family and their friends, Linda Dolezan and Ryan made it through. And they are with us tonight. Linda, thank you for being with us.

DOLEZAN: Thank you for having me. It`s an honor.

GRACE: Along with Linda, her family is joining us -- Leonard, her husband, Jenna, her daughter, 8. Ryan will be 3 next month. Linda, what did you first think when you found out you were pregnant with Ryan?

DOLEZAN: When I first found out I was pregnant with Ryan, I was thrilled to death. I had always dreamed of having two children, and that was my second child.

GRACE: When did you first realize that he was sick?

DOLEZAN: When he was born. The very day he was born, we were told he had Down syndrome and a lot of the other things that come with Down syndrome, heart defect and a blood disorder.

GRACE: We`re taking a look at him right now, and he is just absolutely beautiful. He is gorgeous. You are taking a look at little Ryan, who will be 3 next month. Here he is. When you first realized that he was Down syndrome, what did you think immediately?

DOLEZAN: I was frightened. I was fearful of the unknown.

GRACE: What exactly?

DOLEZAN: I remember, growing up, kids with Down syndrome weren`t treated as nicely by, you know, our peers. And it scared me for his future, what he would have to face, and how could I protect him from the teasing and the taunting, and those types of things.

GRACE: And when during all of this did you learn that you had breast cancer?

DOLEZAN: About four months after he was born.

GRACE: So you`re battling, trying to keep him well, trying to prepare yourself for what`s to come raising a child with Down syndrome, and you learn you have breast cancer. How did that come about? Did you find out you had a lump in your breast? Did you go for a routine mammogram? What happened?

DOLEZAN: I actually found the lump in my breast 19 months before it was diagnosed. And the lump continued to grow through my pregnancy. They couldn`t find anything in the diagnostic tests. And after my pregnancy, I -- with Ryan being so sick, I didn`t have time to pursue it. So when things calmed down a little bit, I went and got the mammogram and moved forward with some of the diagnostic testing, and that`s when it was discovered to be cancer.

GRACE: Joining us tonight also, Dr. Marty Makary. He is a physician and professor of public health at Johns Hopkins. Doctor, when a woman has breast cancer and goes through a pregnancy and a delivery, does that affect the growth of the cancer?

DR. MARTY MAKARY, PHYSICIAN, PROF. OF PUBLIC HEALTH, JOHNS HOPKINS UNIV.: Absolutely. In fact, most all chemotherapy needs to be postponed until after the delivery. So it`s a difficult thing to manage the two things going on at once.

GRACE: Explain that. Why do you have to put off chemotherapy? What would it do to the baby, the unborn baby?

MAKARY: Chemotherapy selectively targets actively growing cells. That`s what cancer cells are. That`s also what an embryo or what a baby and pregnancy is. It`s a child that`s growing with rapidly growing cells. Chemotherapy will target it and can poison any child.

GRACE: My other question, Dr. Makary, is with the hormones that are coursing through your body during pregnancy, don`t they add to the rapid growth of breast cancer?

MAKARY: Absolutely. We know that about 60 to 70 percent of breast cancers have receptors for estrogen and progesterone, hormones that we know go up in pregnancy. So that can exacerbate or help develop a breast cancer.

GRACE: So during this time, Doctor, I don`t understand how she can have a cancer with a malignant lump in her breast and nobody catches it.

MAKARY: Well, it`s a struggle. Nationwide, Nancy, now 13 percent of Americans at this time will have breast cancer at some point in their lifetime. Detection is the key. And it`s a good thing that it was detected early because, as Linda shared with us earlier publicly, it was a lobular carcinoma, and that is a type of cancer that can be very aggressive and is often treated with both breasts being removed.

GRACE: Tonight with us is Linda Dolezan. She is the winner of our extraordinary parent contest. She gives birth to a beautiful baby boy, Ryan, discovers upon his birth that he is Down syndrome. Then her next battle, she learns she has breast cancer, that during the pregnancy carrying baby Ryan, she develops a growing malignant tumor. And that`s not all. That`s not all that Linda has battled. When did you find out about the leukemia?

DOLEZAN: I found out about Ryan`s leukemia on my 39th birthday, which was the day -- actually, it was the day before my 39th birthday. I was preparing to go in for my double mastectomy, and we took Ryan in for some pre-operative blood work because he was going to be having open heart surgery.

GRACE: Now, when you told us that he was Down syndrome, there was also the issue of the heart defect.

DOLEZAN: Yes. That`s a very common thing in kids with Down syndrome, that they have various types of heart defects.

GRACE: So you actually battled cancer. You`re a new mom again, with your little girl there with you now, who is 8, Jenna. You`re a new mom again. You`re battling getting over breast cancer, battling it. You are now fighting alongside with him as he fights leukemia. Tell me about one of your days.

DOLEZAN: Nancy, one of my days would consist of getting up in the morning and -- my days consisted of getting -- you know, getting through it, getting through whether it be treatment, whether it be side effects of the treatment, driving Ryan to Chicago for treatment, driving him back the next week because he had a fever. There was no day that was the same, really. It was all day by day and take it as it comes.

GRACE: I`m just trying to imagine what one day in the life of Linda Dolezan would be like. She`s a new mom all over again. She finds out her baby is Down syndrome and is constantly worried about what his future may hold. She learns she is battling breast cancer. He has heart surgery, and then she learns her little baby boy is battling leukemia. Tell me about the treatments. How difficult were they for you and for him?

DOLEZAN: The treatments were very difficult. My treatments were done in South Bend, Indiana, and Ryan`s were done in Chicago, Illinois, which is about a two-hour drive. And my oncologist was very good about scheduling my treatment, was flexible enough that I could be with Ryan during his treatment. I was nauseated. I could just walk into that chemo room and get sick to my stomach. And that made it very hard to be around Ryan when he was getting treatment because I could smell the medicine.

GRACE: Linda, when I`m hearing your story, it`s just hard for those of us who have not lived what you have lived through, what you have battled and what you have been victorious over so far. It`s hard for us to take it in. But I`m looking at you, you`re absolutely gorgeous. You have a smile that lights up a room. And look at your little girl. Look how beautiful she is. And what a strong lady she is going to grow up to be because of you.

And I`ve also learned that you are now starting a battle against ovarian cancer. How -- how do you get through it? Tell me. Where do you find the strength to just keep fighting?

DOLEZAN: I don`t know. When I look at this little girl, when I look at my son, when I look at my husband, that gives me the strength to keep fighting. And I know I`m going to beat it again. I know I will. And I don`t have a choice.

GRACE: Now, you know what, Linda? You really don`t because you`ve got this beautiful little girl that needs you and this beautiful little boy that needs you so very much and your husband.


GRACE: Just tell me -- you know, I`m a brand-new mother and I feel that I`ve got a lot to learn. Give me your words of wisdom.

DOLEZAN: What -- the only thing I can think is that you never give up hope. No matter what you face, no matter, you know -- when it seems like the hardest day of your life, you know that that day will bring a new day and you`ll get -- you`ll get through it. And your babies are just beautiful.

GRACE: You know another thing, Linda? I was thinking, I remember seeing my mom up at 6:00 o`clock in the morning and coming home from work, getting home at 7:00 or 8:00 o`clock at night and cooking dinner and trying to help us with our 4H projects and just being so strong and so positive. And I can only imagine the life lessons and the strength that you are teaching to your children right now.

And I just want -- from our whole staff, Linda, I want to tell you how much you have inspired all of us. And we had so many entries, but you are one of the strongest and bravest people I have ever met, and I hope and pray that I can be half the mother that you are.

DOLEZAN: I`m sure you will be. Thank you, Nancy. That means so much coming from you.

GRACE: No, no, thank you. And Linda, God bless you and your wonderful family, our extraordinary parent, Linda Dolezan.

DOLEZAN: Thank you.


GRACE: After thousands of entries and weeks and weeks on the hunt for those who inspire, we want to share with you some of our extraordinary parents.


JAMIE SOOKOO, EXTRAORDINARY PARENT FINALIST: He killed my mother first, and then he shot my sister and then he killed himself. The kids were there. They witnessed everything.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: On Valentine`s Day 2006, 46-year-old Mario Calderon shot and killed his mother-in-law, Evelyn Benabe, his wife, Gina, and then himself. The couple`s three young boys, Adonis, Dylan and Kyle, were all at home.

SOOKOO: The minute I got off the phone with the detective, I fell on the floor. And I felt like every single bit of air came out of my body.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Grief-stricken by the lost of her sister, Jamie Sookoo and her boyfriend, Ainsley, knew they needed to help the three brothers.

SOOKOO: They just wanted to be stable. They just wanted a home. They just wanted a place to call home.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The couple, who already had a young son of their own, married and adopted the boys and have been a family ever since.

SOOKOO: Do you miss your mommy?


SOOKOO: And your nonnie? Yes? How much?




BEVERLY MCMINN, EXTRAORDINARY PARENT FINALIST: I was treated no differently than my sisters. I was expected to do the same things as my sisters did growing up.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Beverly McMinn has been overcoming life`s obstacles since the day she was born without arms or legs.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You don`t even know what you can do until you see this girl right here.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When Beverly and her husband, Jason, had their first child, Skyler, they were met with criticism and doubt.

BEVERLY MCMINN: As the years went by, I was able to prove to ourselves and the rest of the world that we were able to care for our son.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Today, Beverly is a busy mom of two. With the help of her kids, she runs a household while her husband is at work.

BEVERLY MCMINN: I don`t know how many times I`ve had people tell me, yes, it must be nice just to sit around and do nothing. I don`t do that. (INAUDIBLE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Beverly hopes that her story of perseverance in the face of adversity can be an inspiration to others.

BEVERLY MCMINN: I`ve overcome a lot of challenges in my life. Take life just one step at a time and enjoy it while you can.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: During the past 38 years, my parents have raised three biological children. They have adopted three children with special needs, and they have been foster parents to 29 foster children, many with special circumstances and needs.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Pete and Sunny Biolo always knew they wanted a big family. After having three boys of their own, the couple decided to open their home to foster children.

PETE BIOLO, EXTRAORDINARY PARENT FINALIST: ... if we were going to do this thing called fostering, that we would take these children in and treat them just like they were our own children. Love and care and consistency are important.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It has been nearly 40 years and the couple has been foster parents to nearly 30 children.

SUNNY BIOLO, EXTRAORDINARY PARENT FINALIST: We don`t know when we`re going to stop doing this. I think four babies ago, Pete said, Now, this will be our last baby, don`t you think? And then the phone rings, and I have another baby in the home!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They taught us that family is the most important thing in the world and that raising children is a gift from God. They`re living their dreams, which is doing God`s work and taking care of children.



TRICIA DENNIS, EXTRAORDINARY PARENT FINALIST: Everyone is searching in their lives for their point or their purpose. Mine was being a mom, I thought. A couple years later, when Noah was born, I realized it`s bigger than that.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Tricia Dennis`s second son, Noah, was born with a rare developmental disorder, schizencephaly. The disorder left Noah wheelchair-bound and completely depend on Tricia, and his big brother, River. Rather get discouraged by Noah`s condition, Tricia became inspired.

DENNIS: If I didn`t have River with me, it was impossible for me to shop. Noah`s cart was created because I was at the store one day and I just thought, you know, there`s a huge market of parents like me out there who have children with special needs who can`t take their kids shopping anymore.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Tricia is now working to make Noah`s cart, a grocery cart able to accommodate children like Noah, a reality. She hopes to not only help other families but to raise money for research.

TRICIA DENNIS: This is all his plan and this is just me carrying out Noah`s plan, and now I understand what -- what my point being behind his mother was.



GRACE: This was a huge leap of faith for me to marry and have children. And I`ve got to say, I only regret one thing, and that`s not doing it 20 years ago.

LARRY KING, HOST, "LARRY KING LIVE": What was it like when they told you it was twins?

GRACE: Oh, gosh! Well, frankly, at first, I was just floored. I was flabbergasted because all of the love you want to pour into one child, I couldn`t understand how I was going to split that 50-50 and give it to two children. And I was confounded by that all the way up until the time I laid eyes on John David and Lucy. And instead of having to split the love 50/50, Larry, I just grew more love.

KING: Why did you keep the marriage and the pregnancy a secret for a while?

GRACE: Well, Larry, it had taken me so long to make this decision to go forward with a marriage and starting a family, I just didn`t want to jinx it.



GRACE: And now, extraordinary parents, parents who continue onward and upward, sometimes against all the odds.


APRIL MONROE, EXTRAORDINARY PARENT FINALIST: That day was probably the hardest day and the scariest day of my life.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: At 19, April Monroe did not expect to become a single mother, especially to a little boy like Calvin.

MONROE: My worst fears as a pregnant mother came true. I had a child that was born with deformities.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Born with a severe cleft lip and palate, baby Calvin was in for a long road of surgeries. But that was not all. Calvin was also born with a hole in his heart and without a spleen. In his six short years on earth, Calvin has battled bone marrow failure and multiple recurrences of spinal meningitis.

MONROE: Calvin is here for a reason. And he`s just incredible. He`s defied all odds and he`s made it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Although this was not the motherhood she had expected, April says raising Calvin is a gift.

MONROE: God gave me Calvin because he knew that I could do it. You know, I am so blessed to have him. You know, I get to wake up to a precious life every day. That`s rewarding. That`s so rewarding to me.



DAN MILLER, EXTRAORDINARY PARENT FINALIST: I`ll be totally honest with her and tell her that -- who her mother was, exactly as I saw her.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Dan Miller and his wife, Kristina, were expecting the birth of their first child when Kristina was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Just three months after baby Hope was born, Kristina passed away. It was Mother`s Day 2006.

MILLER: A sobering time and something that really kind of makes you step back and think about things when you were supposed to -- to do this together with someone.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Now faced with the reality of raising his little girl alone, Dan was forced to soldier on.

MILLER: She -- she really, really enjoyed life, just like her mom did.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: At 2 years old, Hope does not fully comprehend the loss of her mother, but Dan is ready for when she starts asking questions.

MILLER: When she gets the -- the wherewithal about the world around her and starts understanding the connection and starts asking why it`s just me, why I only have a daddy, there`s really nothing I can tell her except the truth.



GRACE: Tonight, I want to thank you from the heart for your prayers, your kind thoughts, your e-mails, letters, cards over the past year. After a very difficult pregnancy and the emergency C-section, I am the mom of two little souls. Little Lucy Elizabeth and baby John David.

You know, love comes to us in many forms, and I can truly say I have found the love of my life. As many of you know, I never thought this could happen to me.


GRACE: I have breaking news of my own. When I lost my fiancee to violent crime so many years ago, wife, much less mother did not seem part of God`s plan for me. My life for 20 years has been representing crime victims in and out of court. I`m happy to report the plan for my life has made a U-turn.

This past April, I married David. And tonight, I announce that we are expecting twins. So to all of you who think there may be no light at the end of the tunnel, there is. And I have wedding photos to share at the end of the show. So thank you for sharing my joy.

Everyone, on another note, again, I want to thank you for sharing tonight`s joy in my life, and here are those photos I promised. There I am with my great-grandmother`s Bible coming down the aisle. That was my groom earlier, David. And there we are again, just before we dug into a homemade wedding cake.

First, some news of my own. I announced to you several months ago the U-turn my life has taken, long after losing my fiancee to crime shortly before our wedding, many, many years ago. I never expected the joy of marriage, much less motherhood. The amazing blessing is not only that I married, but am expecting twins.

And in response to your many, many kind e-mails and calls, tonight the big news in our lives. The sexes of the twins have been confirmed by ultrasound. Think pink and blue! A boy and a girl.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have a very special announcement tonight. I`m honored to tell you about it. Exciting news. Nancy and her husband David welcomed their twin bundles of joy this weekend. Yes, that`s true. John David, born at 1:54 p.m. on Sunday, his sister, Lucy Elizabeth. born right after that, at 1:55 p.m. Baby John weighing 5 pounds and 1 ounce. His sister baby Lucy weighing 2 pounds and 15 ounces.

Mom and dad say they are both doing great. John David, of course, named after his father, and John the Revelator. While Lucy Elizabeth named after Nancy`s maternal grandmother who helped raise her, and Nancy`s mom Elizabeth. The twins` quick and surprising delivery came after Nancy recently developed dangerous pulmonary edema.

Now that`s fluid accumulation in the lungs. And her doctor thought it was best for Nancy and the babies` health. But they`re all doing well and resting comfortably tonight. A heartfelt congratulations and best wishes to proud parents Nancy and David and their new twins Lucy Elizabeth and John David.

KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: Now Nancy had what`s called pulmonary edema. Medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen is at our medical update desk in Atlanta with more on this. So a very happy time, of course, for Nancy and her husband, and for the babies. But also a scary time as they had to decide whether or not to go ahead and deliver those twins early.

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Oh, right. I mean, this is a very scary and serious condition. And it`s terrific that she got such great medical care. Pulmonary edema is a fancy way, Kiran, of saying fluid in the lungs. It`s a dangerous condition when you`re not pregnant and certainly very dangerous when you are pregnant for both the mother and the babies.

Thankfully, this is not very common. This happens in fewer than 0.1 percent of all pregnancies. Now let`s take a look at some of the signs of pulmonary edema, coughing, extreme shortness of breath, and water retention in the legs and the ankles. Now you may wonder, why, Nancy, or why do some women get this while others don`t?

There are a number of reasons why. One of them is possibly an underlying condition, someone might have an underlying heart condition. Or they might be taking drugs to put off pre-term labor. Or they might have hypertension already. And so that might be causing part of the problem.

Now usually doctors do what Nancy`s doctor did, which is deliver those babies to save the life of the mother and the child.


GRACE: And tonight, meet two very special guests, two of the tiniest crime fighters, Lucy and John David, my twins.


GRACE: First of all, this is my real baby. She was born one minute after her brother. This is little Lucy. And I want you to see her face. She`s just the most beautiful thing. She wakes up in the morning with a smile on her face. And she stays that way almost all day long. She was born at 1:55 on November the 4th.

And now her brother. This is her big brother, John David. He was born at 1:54 on November the 4th. Isn`t he beautiful?

They`re not identical twins, but they look like identical twins. And I remember when they first came into -- into the world, I still didn`t realize how sick I was. At that time, I didn`t know that I had blood clots that were in my lungs.

But long story short, when I looked at them, it was like a mad house in the emergency room. They were trying to keep me breathing, and all I could do, Robin, is take a kiss to my index finger and put it on their forehead, and then I didn`t see them again for a while.

BARBARA WALTERS, CO-HOST, "THE VIEW": Months ago, she gave birth prematurely to twins, and a week later she found herself back in the hospital. But now mom and babies are happy and healthy, and she is back at CNN HEADLINE NEWS, covering the court cases and there are so many now.

Please welcome Nancy Grace.


GRACE: I`m so happy to be here.

WALTERS: You know, we were all very disturbed when -- originally when the babies were born, worrying about them. I`m sure that outside of you, no one was more worried than your mother.

GRACE: Oh, my mom is here today. There she is, Elizabeth.

WALTERS: Congratulations, grandma.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you, thank you.


WALTER: So before we get to all of the crimes, how are the babies, and how are you? Because you went back in the hospital.


GRACE: Yes, I brought that when I have a tissue with me...



JOY BEHAR, CO-HOST, "THE VIEW": Wait a minute, I`m leaking, too!


GRACE: In that picture, Lucy is sucking John David`s nose. They are asleep together in the hospital. They`re both home now. And I`ve got to tell you, the happiest day of my life is when I brought her home. Because I had already brought him home, and leaving her behind in the neonatal unit, she was hooked up to so many tubes. And when I left with him, I looked back at her, and she just looked at me like, mommy, do something.

But the day we took her home, the trees were waving, they were gold and red and yellow and green like a parade. It was the happiest day of my life.



ELISABETH HASSELBECK, CO-HOST, "THE VIEW": What were the health complications that you had? What was it? Was it edema?

GRACE: Look, I was in a wheelchair...

HASSELBECK: Yes, I remember that.

GRACE: About three months before the delivery. But I thought it was because I`m very short and typically petite. But I thought that was because I was carrying twins, I just couldn`t breathe. And it got worse and worse. Finally, I couldn`t even walk to the elevator. I couldn`t even carry my pocketbook anymore.

And I didn`t realize what was wrong. But slowly and surely, I was just feeling up with liquid. My lungs were just swimming. I got out of the hospital on a Thursday. That night, I was back in the emergency room, unable to breathe. As it turned out, not only was there a lot of liquid in the lungs and the heart chamber, but I had developed a bunch of blood clots. Blood clots that went to the lung.

BEHAR: Dangerous.

GRACE: I know.

WALTERS: Well, here you are.

GRACE: But I`m better.

WALTERS: Well, we`re glad you`re better.

GRACE: I`m better.

WALTERS: We`re glad you`re better. And you`re your old self.

GRACE: This was a huge leap of faith for me to marry and have children, and I`ve got to say, I only regret one thing. And that`s not doing it 20 years ago.

LARRY KING, HOST, "LARRY KING LIVE": What was it like when they told you it was twins?

GRACE: Oh, gosh. Well, frankly, at first I was just floored. I was flabbergasted because all of the love you want to pour into one child, I couldn`t understand how I was going to split that 50/50 and give it to two children. And I was confounded by that all the way up until the time I laid eyes on John David and Lucy.

And instead of having to split the love 50/50, Larry, I just grew more love.

KING: Why did you keep the marriage and the pregnancy a secret for a while?

GRACE: Well, Larry, it had taken me so long to make this decision to go forward with a marriage and starting a family, I just didn`t want to jinx it.



GRACE: And now little Lucy and baby John David`s debut on the air waves, and the doctors who saved our lives. I want you to meet live two very, very special guests, the tiniest crime fighters in my life. We are live in my New York apartment via the Internet. And there you see my mom and David. David has had to call in reinforcement, my mom, my dad. A nurse is there, all to take care of these two little things.

Look at them. Now John David is on the left in the green bassi. And Lucy Elizabeth is on the right in the pink bassi. David, I take it they`ve had their dinner.

DAVID LINCH, HUSBAND OF NANCY GRACE: They`ve had their dinner, but they`re starting to stir again, Nancy.

GRACE: So they`ll be ready by the time I get home. Did they take the whole bottle?

LINCH: Not this time. John David took about half and Lucy took all of hers. But I think he is starting to wake up a little bit now, you may hear him here shortly.

GRACE: Now my mom is a trooper, everybody. Mother, raise your arms up, my mom broke both of her arms in a fall on an icy surface.


GRACE: Yes. But she is here to help take care of the twins and their triumphant entry into TV land. There they are. Lucy and John David. What a day. I never thought this would come. I want to go to Dr. Richard Robbins, the obstetrician that delivered the twins.

Dr. Robbins, you and I had never met before that day. As a matter of fact, I don`t have any man doctors, no offense, sir. But Echmindea (ph) was the first man doctor I`ve had since I had an allergist when I was 12. So I didn`t know you at all. But in my mind, I distinctly recall you telling me that if we had waited 72 more hours, we may have lost little Lucy.

She was so tiny. We thought she weighed so much more. She was just barely at 2 pounds. Why was that, Dr. Robbins?

DR. RICHARD ROBBINS: Well, I`m not exactly sure. I think that her placenta was certainly not working as well as her big brother`s. And, of course, that would have been aggravated by your breathing problems. Certainly that pulmonary edema when you arrived.

GRACE: Dr. Scheinberg (ph), what is pulmonary edema?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My definition of pulmonary edema is simply soggy lungs, lungs that are saturated like a sponge is wet. And so lungs that are wet don`t exchange gas very well.

GRACE: And, Dr. Scheinberg, how does the fluid that gets in the lung get into the heart cavity?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, it doesn`t really get into the heart cavity. What`s happened is the lung is basically a very vascular organ, a lot of blood flow going through it. Your entire cardiac output every minute is passing through the lungs. And so the capillary that is supposed to keep the blood in as the gas exchange takes place.

But if the capillaries get a little leaky, imagine that it`s basically a filtrate, it`s like pipes -- a cold pipe having water on the outside. The water leaks through the walls, and settles in the lung itself, and the lung becomes like a wet sponge. So it doesn`t exchange gas well, and it`s very difficult to breathe.

GRACE: To Dr. Michael Echmindea. I remember the very first time I met you, Dr. Ech (ph), I had these Atlanta doctors lined up just in case I might need a doctor in Atlanta. Next thing you know, emergency C-section. Dr. Ech, why is it that the fluid builds up that way, and why couldn`t we tell that baby Lucy only weighed two pounds? Remember, we thought that she was coming up on five pounds.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, looking over the ultrasound reports that I`ve read, it did show that the -- probably the last visit, there was a little bit of lack of growth, decreased lack of growth, and there was some factors with that. Placental function was one. Lucy did have one umbilical artery, and also at deliver, there was a little bit of abnormal placentation of the cord of the placenta. On top of that, you were developing a little bit of this preeclampsia that was going on, and so and so forth. And I think all that played a role in that.

GRACE: You know, and we would go in and check and Lucy was getting longer, the circumference of her head was normal, and everything is just an estimate. Everything seemed fine until that day.

Oh, is John David getting a bottle? Good. John David on the left in the green bassi, baby Lucy on the right in the pink bassi. David, Elizabeth. And joining us are three of the doctors that I attribute to saving their lives, especially the life of little Lucy.

It was a rough day that day, Dr. Robbins, when I thought I couldn`t breathe that morning and ended up coming straight into the hospital. Dr. Robbins, the pulmonary edema, why did that lead to the emergency C-section?

ROBBINS: Well, I was pretty sure that the increased demand from your twins -- the demand on your heart, that your heart would work better if we delivered the twins, and once we -- once we gave you the diuretic to get some of the fluid off then I though we should move right back and get those twins out of there and help you get better.

GRACE: I remember I said, where is Dr. Ech? And you said, well, I`m pinch-hitting today. And the next thing I knew at 1:54, John David came, at 1:55, little Lucy came. And that was all she wrote, thanks to you, Dr. Robbins. Thanks to you. Take a look.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This past February, the lives of friends Brandy Arnold (ph) and Christie Lon (ph) changed forever.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When I woke up, the phone was ringing off the hook, it was (INAUDIBLE) calling and said (INAUDIBLE) was headed our way and that we needed to take cover.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The young mothers decided it would be safest to huddle together at Brandy`s house.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Then I opened my eyes and I could see the wall in front of me, coming in had towards us, and the floor popping up.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Clutching their infants, 4-month-old Wes (ph) and 6-month-old Kaylynn (ph), Brandy and Christie were whirled across the street.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This was our porch. We`re standing beside our porch, and we were actually dead center of our house here.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Among many injuries, baby Wes suffered skull fractures and a bruised spleen. Brandy, a broken arm and pelvis. Baby Kaylynn, skull fractures and a broken leg. Christie, cracked ribs, cracked vertebrae, and a broken hand.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: By the grace of God, we`re still here.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Today all four are recovering and planning for the future.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We (INAUDIBLE) they`re going to be boyfriend and girlfriend when they get older, that`s for sure. But Wes really cries every time he sees her, so.



GRACE: Thank you for all of your thoughts, your prayers, your gifts, your kind wishes for the twins. As I was laying in that hospital bed, praying the three of us would leave the hospital and go home to finally be a family, I never dreamed my prayers would be answered 10,000 times over.

Here are little Lucy and baby John David.

Let`s stop and remember Army Staff Sergeant Lillian Clamens, 35, Lawton, Oklahoma, killed, Iraq. Served in the Army Reserves 17 years and a full-time postal worker, lost her life just days from returning home to her family. She also served in Germany and Korea, devoted to family and taking care of other soldiers and their families. Remembered for her radiant smile, confidence, strength, and warming the hearts of everyone around her. She leaves behind mom Dorothy (ph), sister Dana (ph), grieving husband Raymond (ph), and three children. Lillian Clamens, mother and American hero.

And tonight, on this holy night, merry Christmas to everyone who holds it dear. I`ll see you tomorrow night, 8:00 sharp Eastern, and until then, good night and merry Christmas, friend.