Do doctors treat you differently if you agree to being an organ donor?

I wonder how many people say ‘yes’ to organ donation on their driver’s license but are still uneasy about it. It is important for those of us who want to stimuate donation to reassure such people both for their own peace of mind and because if we don’t they will convey their doubts to others. I recenty received an email from someone I didn’t know but who had just read that Jamie Lee Curtis was once my wife. (In a television movie, I have to admit, not in real life!)

“The timing of reading your story was ironic,” the letter said. “I had just received my California driver’s license and checked off the organ donor box, even though it’s something that has always caused me a bit of anxiety.”

neob-about-us-operation

Photo by permission of New England Donor Services.

I’ve written back assuring her that, if anything happens to her, the doctors will give her exactly the same treatment whether she has agreed to donate or not. She could be confident of that, I added, not only because that is expected of them but also because their reputations, careers. self-esteem and future earnings all depend on them saving lives not losing them.

Reg Green

 

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Stairway of Lawfulness

A primary school in Acerra, Italy, near Naples, has written, in large letters and on a background of bold colors, the names of victims of the Mafia on its front steps — including judges who knowingly put their lives at risk — so that every day the students will be forcibly reminded of the importance of combating lawlessness with justice.

On the first step, among all the Italian names, one is American: Nicholas Green. 

Stairway - Italian school

Photo by ‘Ansa’ press agency, Italy

Link to Ansa article: https://www.ansa.it/campania/notizie/comune_di_acerra/2023/03/21/inaugurata-scala-legalita-al-iv-circolo-didattico_605bddc1-da82-4502-b9d0-0b816b23ab6e.html

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Jamie Lee Curtis, The Actress Who Was My Wife

Regular readers will understand the special pleasure my wife, Maggie, and I took in the Oscar awarded to Jamie Lee Curtis for best supporting actress.

We became close to her when she played Maggie in the television movie, Nicholas’ Gift, based on the shooting of our seven-year-old son, Nicholas, in a case of mistaken identity while we were with him and his sister, Eleanor, on a family holiday in Italy.

JLC Oscar award - L.A. Times

Jamie Lee Curtis shows her Oscar (Photo by L.A. Times)

The gift of submerging her own (strong) personality into that of the character she is playing — the same gift that earned her the Oscar — was evident from the moment we met. Her very first words to Maggie were, “I hope I won’t let you down.”

And so she worked her way in the movie in stages from the horrifying realization that Nicholas had been struck in the head by a bullet, through the profound grief of a mother losing her precious son to the graceful recognition that out of his death donating his organs could save the lives of some desperately sick people, whom at that moment no one else in the world could help.

movie GreensOnLocation

It didn’t seem like acting at all but, instead, the reliving of a journey from despair to hope — a hope not just for Nicholas’ seven recipients but for the whole world.
Congratulations, dear lady.

By Reg Green

Nicholas’ Gift has been seen by more than 80 million people worldwide and can be rented online.

Note: This article first appeared in Colorado Boulevard magazine, Pasadena, California. Link: https://www.coloradoboulevard.net/jamie-lee-curtis-the-actress-who-was-my-wife/

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BBC News. Organ donation: ‘My daughter was shot but lives on in those she saved’

By Harry Low (BBC News reporter)

After the fatal shooting of a six-year-old girl in India last year, her parents made a choice few in the country do – donating her organs. Despite being expected to surpass China this year as the world’s most populous nation, India is 62nd in the global donation league table. The BBC travelled to Rome, where a campaign sparked three decades ago by another child’s gun death could show how progress can be made.

Link to the complete article: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-62987703

BBC Article - Harry Low - January 2023

Rolly Prajapati was sleeping peacefully last April in the home she shared with her five brothers and sisters in suburban Delhi. In the next room, her parents were preparing dinner when they heard a loud bang and a scream.

When they went into the room, Rolly cried out for her parents before falling unconscious. […..]

After days of agonising, her parents made a decision few in India have done before: to donate her organs. Rolly became the youngest donor at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in New Delhi. […..]

“Eventually we decided to go ahead, thinking ‘if my daughter’s organs could save someone’s life, then we should do it’. “We think that our daughter is alive inside the young recipients – our daughter will live on this way.”

Both of Rolly’s kidneys were transplanted to Dev Upadhyaya, 14, whose parents told the BBC it was “a miracle to us” that he received the organs. They had been waiting four years for a transplant and said their “life has been changed” because Rolly’s kidneys had “given new life” to Dev. […..]

Rolly’s death has parallels with the story of Nicholas Green.

The seven-year-old was on holiday in Italy with his family in September 1994 when the car he was travelling in was shot at in a suspected case of mistaken identity.

His parents, Maggie and Reg, made the decision to donate Nicholas’s organs. Reg has dedicated much of his life since to a campaign to encourage more organ donation. […..]

L’effetto Nicholas – the Nicholas effect – is clear to see. The hope is that a similar transformation will take place in India.

At the forefront of this is Dr Deepak Gupta, who has travelled to Rome to meet Reg and other experts from the organ donation community. It was Dr Gupta who first spoke about the option of organ donation to Rolly’s parents – they, like many in the country, had never heard of it. He used Nicholas’s example to show Mr Prajapati, the possible impact of donating. One person dies in India from a head injury every three minutes, according to the Lancet Neurology Commission, and so, Dr Gupta says, there is “a lot of potential for donors”

BBC Article - Harry Low - January 2023 - 3

Each time Reg, 94, returns to Italy from his home in Los Angeles, he meets some of Nicholas’s recipients – on this trip, he met two women bound together by the transformative effect of donation.

Shana Parisella’s brother Davide was killed in a car crash in March 2013, and his heart was transplanted to Anna Iaquinta. Nine years after the operation, Anna decided to search for her donor’s family and formed a strong bond with Shana, who she says is like a sister to her.

Shana, who has driven 140 km. from Fondi to Rome, said it was a dream to meet a “great man” who was “an example for everyone”.

Anna said: “It’s not easy for the person that receives the heart because you have a lot of thoughts and you kind of feel bad because on their side there’s a lot of pain. But on your side there’s a lot of joy, so it’s kind of like two different emotions.” […..] “Nothing will ever be enough for having received life.” […..]

After visiting Rome, Reg travelled to Messina where he met 24-year-old Nicholas, the son of Maria Pia Pedala who was in a coma when she received Nicholas’s liver 29 years ago. He says he will only stop speaking about the issue when he dies. “I’m 94 years old so I was quite old when I started this,” he told the BBC.

“I think by now I would have hung up my tonsils but the thought that just by talking you can save lives has been a thought that motivates me every day.”

 

Link to the complete article: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-62987703

Twitter BBC: https://twitter.com/BBCWorld/status/1620237444250468352

Twitter Harry Low: https://twitter.com/harrylow49/status/1620924625957060608 

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Nicholas is remembered… in every Bioethics class

Dear Reg Green,

I was grading some Bioethics papers today and realized not for the first time how Nicholas’ name always features in my students’ discussion of organ transplantation, and ways to help increase donor registration.

The Nicholas effect has truly entered into the hearts of my Ohio based class each year around this time. For them, your video really shows the human face of medical dilemmas… that medicine is not just a science but a human relationship, and the hope that something good can emerge even in the darkest of days.

Andrew Trew, John Carroll University

Prof. Andrew Trew and some of his students

Your family’s message has inspired every one of my pre health students… So, many are now practicing in the healthcare field…

I like to think they have not forgotten Nicholas.

Andrew Trew

Department of Philosophy

John Carroll University

Ohio

Prof. Andrew Trew and some of his students

Prof. Andrew Trew and some of his students

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In the news: “Transplants, that gift from Nicholas’ and Rolly’s parents that saved lives” (from ‘Il Corriere della Sera’)

Author: Maria Giovanna Faiella.

Date: September 30, 2022

The stories of children, struck by a tragic fate, will be told where organ donation is almost non-existent. In Italy, 28% still oppose donations.

The story shook the conscience of Italians. Nicholas Green, the 7-year-old American boy on vacation in Italy with his family, was shot to death from a bullet on the Salerno Reggio Calabria highway, 28 years ago: thanks to his parents decision to donate his organs and corneas, five people were saved and sight was restored to two others. The gesture prompted many compatriots to follow the example of the Greens: donations, therefore transplants, increased and lives were saved.

Last April, Rolly Prajapati, a six-year-old Indian girl, was killed in a shooting: her parents also decided to donate organs. Nicholas’ and Rolly’s families have turned their personal tragedy into a generous act of solidarity with people, unknown to them, waiting for a new organ. Now, with a new campaign to increase organ donation which starts in Messina on October 1st, the hope is that the Nicholas effect will be repeated in the poorest countries in the world — but also in developed ones, including Italy, where every day someone on the waiting list dies.

Rome press conference

The speakers of the press conference

Love for Italy reciprocated

Reginald Green, Nicholas’ father, returned to Italy to support the new campaign: it will start on the same date (October 1) and in the same hospital where Nicholas died; this time the story of a little Indian girl will help tell the world that what distinguishes the life of an organ donor is not the sudden calamity that caused his death, but the new life that it has generated, and the hope of a better world that follows. Nicholas – remembers moved Reginald Green, now 93 – loved Italy and although he was only seven, we had already brought him here three times. “Since his death, Italy has repaid that love of him many times, including over a hundred places named after him. Even more, the love of Italy was revealed in a practical way: in the ten years following his death, organ donation rates tripled. Understanding the strength of that reaction is crucial to our new campaign which will be similar to the one that focused on Nicholas and which was so successful in Italy, but this time it will include Rolly. We will tell their stories in places in the world where organ donation is almost non-existent and where, every year, hundreds of thousands of people die while they could be saved by transplanting new organs if they were donated.”

Replicate the Nicholas effect

With the pandemic, donation rates have dropped around the world – explains Professor Deepak Gupta, a neurosurgeon at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi, who coordinated Rolly Prajapati’s organ donation. In India, where organ donations are very few and pediatric ones are almost unknown, thanks to the media attention for the story of Rolly, whose organs have saved other children, donations increased from April to August by over 60%. The hope is that the Nicholas Effect – which has driven the increase in donations in Italy – will be repeated in the poorest countries in the world but also in the areas lagging behind with donations, including some Italian regions.

There are those who still oppose it

“In Italy, at the beginning of the pandemic there was a decline in donations and transplants. Last year there was a recovery, with an increase of more than 10 percent compared to 2020, and donations also increased by 6%”, says Letizia Lombardini, medical director of the National Transplant Center. In our country too, the availability of donated organs is still lower than needed. “Last year there were over 8,000 people on the waiting list for a transplant”, Lombardini reports. In our country, the opposition rate to donations averaged 28 percent. In addition to the refusal to remove the organs made by the relatives of the deceased person, they also registered too many “no” responses to donation at the time of issue or renewal of the identity card. Dr. Lombardini reports: “In 2021, out of 5 million Italians who renewed their identity cards, 3 million expressed their willingness to donate organs, several said “no”, others still did not express themselves.”

International conference

The organ donation awareness campaign starts in Messina where the first edition of the International Conference will be held on 1 and 2 October (DONARTE 2022 – DOnation and Art: Nicholas And Rolly Testimonials.)
“Sicily is at the bottom of the national donor ranking. There are just 11 donors per million inhabitants (compared to a national average of 24), while the opposition rate (people opposing donation) is over 40 percent” – the director of the anesthesia complex operating unit of the “Martino” Polyclinic of Messina, Anna Teresa Mazzeo said. “The awareness of citizens is fundamental, which must go hand in hand with the training of health personnel”.

Originally published in “Il Corriere della Sera” newspaper. Link: https://www.corriere.it/salute/22_settembre_30/trapianti-dono-genitori-piccoli-nicholas-green-rolly-prajapati-04b36fa4-4096-11ed-8b65-55aa2f703574.shtml

This English version is adapted from: https://time.news/transplants-that-gift-from-nicholas-and-rollys-parents-that-saved-lives-time-news/

 

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Organ Donations Set a Record at India’s Biggest Hospital

    In April of this year Dr. Deepak Gupta, professor of neurosurgery at the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) Delhi, coordinated the organ donation of a six-year old girl, Rolly Prajapati, who was shot while sleeping next to her parents at her home in Noida. The circumstances were close to the shooting of my own seven-year old son, Nicholas Green, while we were on a family holiday in Italy from our home in California. In the following 10 years organ donation rates in Italy tripled, a phenomenon that is known there as “the Nicholas Effect.” (nicholasgreen.org)

Donarte 2022

From left to right: Dr. Antonio David (Dean of Messina University), Dr. Deepak Gupta, Reg Green and Dr. Anna Teresa Mazzeo at Donarte Conference, Messina, October 2022

    A striking change has shown itself in India too. Since Rolly’s death, the number of organ donations at AIIMS Delhi has risen to 13, higher in those five months than for any full year since the transplant program there began in 1994. The 3,200 bed hospital usually has five to eight donations in a full year.

    The donations since Rolly’s death have yielded 43 life-saving organs and 26 tissues, such as corneas to restore sight and heart valves to cure children born with congenital heart diseases. One of the donations was from the youngest child ever transplanted in India. This rapid rise is already being talked about as “the Rolly Effect.”

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Maria Pia, Dying at 19, Is Now a Radiant 47-Year Old

She is 47, lives in Sicily and likes true stories with happy endings. That’s understandable. She was on her deathbed when she was 19.

Her name is Maria Pia Pedala and she was saved from a seemingly inevitable death by a liver transplant. When I met her a few months later she already looked full of good health. Her way back continued so well that in two years she married her loyal sweetheart, Salvatore, and four years after the transplant had a baby boy and two years after that a girl, two whole lives that would never have been.

Maria Pia Pedalà and Reg Green

Maria Pia Pedalà and Reg Green at Donarte Conference, October 2022. Photo by Andrea Scarabelli

     All this was a long time ago — she received her new liver in 1994 — but recently, back in Sicily for a few days, I chatted with her just before she gave a speech promoting organ donation at Donarte 2022, an international conference on transplantation at the University of Messina, and I could see in her the prototype of a busy matronly housewife, who gets up by 5.30 am daily, keeps the house clean and tidy, gardens, cooks and deals with all the other needs of a loving family.

She watches her health carefully, goes to bed early, eats sensibly and takes her medications meticulously, feeling she has an obligation to both the healthcare staff who have kept watch over her from her teenage to middle years and to the family who saved her life.

The result is she can do everything normal people of her age can do and in a line-up no one would pick her out as the one who had been the sickest. She also finds a preciousness in the small things in life that eludes most people.

Transplantation is a medical miracle and, even though it is an everyday procedure in hospitals all over the world, it doesn’t stop being a miracle that physicians can take a body part of someone who has died, put it into the body of someone who is dying and bring out of it a healthy person.

In this case, for my family, the story has an element in it that takes it to a higher level still: our son was her donor.

Author:  Reg Green

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Twenty-eight Years Later: Where Are Nicholas’ Killers?

A newspaper in Italy recently asked how we felt about how Nicholas’ killers were treated.

This is what we said:

We never wanted revenge, only what the law prescribed. The one who drove the car was given 20 years in prison so he served the prescribed sentence and was then released. The one who fired the shot was sentenced to life imprisonment but became a ‘pentito’ (that is, he cooperated with the police and supplied information to clear up other crimes) and has had a good enough life under house arrest to have fathered two children. I have to leave it to Italians to decide if that is sufficient punishment for taking the life of an innocent child.

Reg Green

Corte di Cassazione - Roma

The “Corte di Cassazione”, ‘Supreme Court of Cassation’, in Rome (Source: Wikimedia)

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From “La Stampa” Italian newspaper

“La Stampa”, a national Italian newspaper edited in Turin, just published the article “Organ Donation Group Comforts Families Who Didn’t Donate” by Reg Green, on Friday 15th.

La stampa article - July 15 2022

Article title: “Another beautiful deed after 28 years”

Link to the article in English in this blog: https://nicholaseffect.org/2022/07/01/organ-donation-group-comforts-families-who-didnt-donate/

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