Una Lettera Aperta Agli Italiani

Dopo avermi portato a cena nel famoso ristorante Cesarina a Roma qualche sera fa – una volta seconda casa di Federico Fellini e Marcello Mastroianni – il mio anfitrione, un rinomato chirurgo dei trapianti, ha raccontato al maître che io ero il padre del bambino Americano che era stato ucciso sull’Autostrada Salerno-Reggio Calabria e i cui organi erano stati donati a sette Italiani, quattro dei quali adolescenti. “Ah, Nicholas Green”, ha risposto lui, e mentre ci stringevamo la mano, ho visto delle lacrime nei suoi occhi.

E’ stato profondamente appagante per me che il mio bambino di sette anni fosse ricordato in compagnia di tali Dèi del cinema mondiale ma, devo dirlo, non è stata una grande sorpresa. Più di vent’anni fa, scrissi una ‘lettera aperta’ agli Italiani, ringraziandoli per la loro imponente esplosione di supporto verso la nostra famiglia. Nella mia lunga vita, ancora oggi non riesco a ricordare nulla di vagamente simile, in nessuna altra parte del mondo.

Adesso, tornato da poco dalla mia più recente visita in Italia, scrivo un’altra lettera all’Italia per registrare un evento ugualmente senza precedenti: la prosecuzione di quell’emozione dopo tutti questi anni. Dovrei ormai essermi abituato a questa cosa, ma in molti modi, ciò è ancor più sorprendente dell’iniziale impennata.

L’Italia ha trasformato il suo dolore nel beneficio più pratico possibile. Immediatamente dopo l’uccisione di Nicholas, i tassi della donazione degli organi sono schizzati verso l’alto e sono cresciuti costantemente per 10 anni, fino a che oggi sono il triplo di quanto non fossero inizialmente, un tasso di crescita a cui nessun’altra nazione è andato vicino. Centinaia di persone, inclusi molti bambini, che sarebbero morte, sono invece vive. Un incremento di tale portata deve avere delle cause che hanno contribuito, ma nessuno dubita che la ragione primaria sia stata la storia di un bambino e la reazione generosa dell’Italia ad essa.

La Storia è disseminata di buone cause che hanno un’intensità incandescente e si raffreddano pochi mesi dopo. Ogni giorno i media sono pieni di tragedie che a volte coinvolgono migliaia di persone, e che uno o due anni dopo i lettori fanno fatica a ricordare nei dettagli. Eppure questa piccola morte è rimasta nei cuori di milioni di Italiani, molti dei quali erano loro stessi bambini quando Nicholas venne ucciso.

Durante questa recente visita, ho ascoltato ancora quello che ho sentito nelle circa quaranta volte e più che sono venuto in Italia per parlare di donazione degli organi: persone di ogni genere, dai professori di filosofia ai membri del soccorso alpino che raccontano dove erano quando hanno saputo che avevamo donato gli organi di Nicholas: “Ero appena tornato a casa dal lavoro”, “L’ho sentito alla radio della macchina mentre andavo a prendere mia figlia a scuola”. “La mia famiglia era incollata al televisore in attesa di ulteriori notizie”, e mi vengono le lacrime agli occhi. Questo è il tipo di cose che noi che siamo grandi abbastanza da ricordarlo dicevamo quando fu ucciso il Presidente Kennedy, per descrivere la nostra sbigottita incredulità.

Durante un recente viaggio in Sicilia, ho parlato ad una classe di bambini piccoli, che ascoltavano ad occhi spalancati mentre raccontavo come un bambino non molto più grande di loro avesse salvato la vita di cinque persone e restituito la vista ad altre due. “Lei e sua moglie avete parlato in questa scuola un anno dopo la morte di Nicholas”, mi ha ricordato il preside. E’ stato solo allora che mi sono reso conto che stavo parlando ai figli dei bambini che mi avevano fissato anche loro con espressione meravigliata quel giorno del 1995.

Nell’atrio di un’altra scuola, ci sono due orologi, uno come quelli di ogni altra scuola italiana, l’altro con su scritto ‘Ora di Bodega Bay’, un promemoria quotidiano del piccolo villaggio della California dove viveva Nicholas, ed un continuo stimolo all’idealismo degli studenti.

Viaggiando in una strada dell’Italia del Sud l’anno scorso, incontrammo improvvisamente un blocco stradale creato da scioperanti di una fabbrica locale. La fila del traffico era lunga e aumentava. Uomini robusti erano a portata di mano per chetare chiunque implorasse di farlo passare. Il mio autista continuò a guidare lentamente ma imperterrito. “Tornate indietro”, ci ordinò il capo della protesta. “Accompagno il padre del bambino Americano che fu ucciso”, replicò l’autista. “Sta andando a tenere un discorso sulla donazione degli organi”. Una faccia sospettosa fece capolino nella macchina e poi eruppe in un sorriso. “Facciamoli passare”, disse ai suoi compagni, e così riprendemmo la nostra marcia.

Nicholas at the age of 7, on the Alps, a few days before he was killed

Ogni segmento della popolazione continua a mostrarci la sua compassione: giovani, anziani, ricchi, poveri, ogni categoria politica diversa, persone di ogni religione o non credenti, alcuni degli uomini più in vista – Maggie ed io abbiamo incontrato due Presidenti del Consiglio ed un Presidente della Repubblica Italiana, e tutti ci hanno trattato come vecchi amici di famiglia e non leader di una nazione – e alcune delle donne più belle. Ad una cena alla Casa Bianca per un Presidente del Consiglio in visita, alcuni anni fa, dove ero stato invitato come ospite, parlai con Sophia Loren, anche lei ospite, che mi disse “Noi Italiani ci sentiamo molto vicini alla vostra famiglia”. (Wow!). Una sera a Roma, quando Alessia Marcuzzi era seduta ad un tavolo vicino, mi presentai come il padre di Nicholas Green. Quella stessa sera, scrisse un breve messaggio sulla sua pagina Facebook. Normalmente riceve un migliaio di ‘mi piace’ per i suoi post. Per quello lì furono 39000, inclusi migliaia di appassionati commenti a favore della donazione degli organi.

La Chiesa Cattolica è stata accorata nel suo sostegno ad ogni livello. Papa Giovanni Paolo II autorizzò la realizzazione di una magnifica campana con il nome di Nicholas e dei suoi riceventi incisi sopra, per una torre campanaria che commemora i bambini che sono morti e che abbiamo costruito a Bodega Bay. Sulla scultura ci sono altre 140 campane, la maggior parte provenienti da famiglie italiane. Penso a questo monumento come ad un piccolo pezzo dell’anima dell’Italia lungo l’Oceano Pacifico. A livello di base, un ordine di giovani suore, Le Apostole della Vita Interiore, che combinano quattro ore di preghiera al giorno con la più tenera compassione per l’umanità, si sono dimostrate desiderose di aiutare ad estrarre quanto più bene possibile dalla morte di Nicholas, quando ho fatto loro visita a Roma recentemente.

Ho anche incontrato per la prima volta Valentina Lijou, una cugina di Andrea Mongiardo, il ragazzo che a 15 anni ricevette il cuore di Nicholas e che è morto poche settimane fa. Due anni più grande di lei, Andrea era stato la forza motrice dei loro giochi d’infanzia. “Ci faceva sempre ridere”, mi ha detto. All’epoca del trapianto, comunque, Andrea riceveva trasfusioni di prodotti ematici due volte a settimana – una magra fragile figurina che riusciva a malapena a trascinarsi fino alla porta del suo appartamento. Tutto questo cambiò con il trapianto: “Adesso ho una Ferrari per cuore”, era solito dire. Come molti trapianti, questo non prolungò semplicemente un’esistenza malaticcia: la trasformò e, fino a Giugno scorso, Andrea ha vissuto una vita più o meno normale, di buon umore e con un lavoro. Ricordo che una volta che lo incontrai misi la mia mano sul suo cuore e lo sentii battere forte e regolare. “Bravo, Nicholas”, dissi a me stesso. Fino alla fine, quel cuore ha fatto perfettamente il suo lavoro, e la dipartita di Andrea non è stata dovuta al suo indebolimento ma a dei problemi respiratori.

Penso che chiunque abbia sentito parlare di Nicholas sappia che lui amava l’Italia: Maggie, che ha studiato architettura, gli infondeva il fascino della sua arte e dei suoi monumenti, ed io, attraverso il mio amore per la storia, lo aiutavo ad aggiungerci colore. Ma fu la sua propria personalità che mise tutto questo insieme, in un gradimento per l’Italia che era molto oltre i suoi anni. Si entusiasmava all’idea delle vecchie strade che si irradiavano dal centro di Roma fino alla fine del mondo conosciuto. Si stupiva di fronte ai mosaici di Ravenna e quando gli lessi la storia di Polifemo che accecato tasta le pecore dove gli uomini di Ulisse si erano aggrappati, pensai che stesse per esplodere dall’eccitazione.

Avendo perso tutto ciò, a quasi ogni tappa ci viene chiesto, “Non odiate l’Italia?”. Spero che la risposta sia chiara. Maggie ed io non abbiamo mai pensato che l’Italia avesse premuto il grilletto. Furono due criminali ad uccidere Nicholas: sarebbe potuto succedere ovunque. Ma quello che invece non sarebbe potuto accadere ovunque fu la reazione. Credo che nessun’altra nazione al mondo avrebbe mostrato un coinvolgimento di tale grado. Fu quella inondazione di calore umano che ci aiutò a trasformare uno sconsiderato atto di brutalità in una lezione universale in cui la vita trionfa sulla morte, e la speranza sulla disperazione.

Cos’altro c’è da dire, se non “Grazie, Italia”.

Reg Green.

Link alla versione in Inglese: https://nicholaseffect.org/2017/03/28/an-open-letter-to-the-italian-people/

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“How ‘The Nicholas Effect’ changed (in better) the history of transplants”

Article published on “Il Corriere della Sera” (Italy)

corriere-della-sera-9-2-2017

To read the complete article, go to:

http://www.corriere.it/salute/17_febbraio_09/cosi-l-effetto-nicholas-ha-cambiato-in-meglio-storia-trapianti-5cbd3fe6-eeb6-11e6-b691-ec49635e90c8.shtml

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The final beat of Nicholas Green’s heart of gold

The boy who received my son’s heart died Tuesday, although he wasn’t really a boy any longer. He was 37 years old. But when my 7-year old son, Nicholas, was shot in an attempted carjacking on a family vacation in Italy, Andrea Mongiardo was just 15.

At the hospital in Sicily, my wife, Maggie, and I decided to donate Nicholas’ organs and corneas for transplant. They went to seven very sick Italians, four of them teenagers.

Perhaps the most agonizing feature of being on a transplant waiting list is that patients can do nothing at all to influence if and when a new organ becomes available. Their future depends entirely on whether a family they have never met is willing to put its own mourning aside to help total strangers.

When Maggie and I were told that Nicholas had no brain activity, it was she who said, in her usual thoughtful way, “Shouldn’t we donate his organs?” We had no sense of what the outcome would be, who could be saved, what they would be like. But we realized we could squeeze some good from what was otherwise just a meaningless act of violence.

What we couldn’t have guessed was how much good: News of our decision spread like wildfire and so galvanized Italy that in the next 10 years organ donation rates there tripled, an increase no other country came close to. As a result, thousands of people are alive who would have died.

Some of Nicholas’ recipients were very close to death. One was a diabetic who was almost blind, couldn’t walk without help and was dependent on others. After receiving Nicholas’ pancreas cells, she moved into an apartment of her own for the first time in her life.

A 19-year-old got Nicholas’ liver. The day he died, she was in a coma. She bounced back to health, married her childhood sweetheart a year later, and a year after that they had a baby boy, whom they named Nicholas. He is now a tall, handsome young man with no trace of the liver weakness that has dogged his family.

Andrea took longer to heal. He had been sick for so long that his strength was undermined and, whereas the other six were soon back in circulation, he only slowly came back to full health. But when he did, it was for real. He got a job, played soccer, lived more normally than he had ever been able to growing up.

And that is how things stood until we got an email on Tuesday. “His heart was still functioning,” Andrea’s longtime doctor told us, “but the lungs were fibrotic because of drug toxicity related to chemotherapy treatment received three years ago after diagnosis of lymphoma. The final cause of death was respiratory failure.”

It was deflating, like the loss of a young nephew you never dreamed would go before you did. But we don’t feel as if Nicholas died all over again, as some doctors fear will happen to donor families. And, of course, we still have no regrets about the decision we took in 1994.

When the Italian media first asked Maggie how she felt about our son’s heart being transplanted into another boy’s chest, she said: “I always hoped Nicholas would have a long life. Now I hope his heart has a long life.”

Sadly, Nicholas’ heart didn’t reach old age. It did, however, perform nobly for three decades. I’m not surprised: I always knew it was pure gold.

What we couldn’t have guessed was how much good: News of our decision spread like wildfire and so galvanized Italy that in the next 10 years organ donation rates there tripled, an increase no other country came close to. As a result, thousands of people are alive who would have died.

Some of Nicholas’ recipients were very close to death. One was a diabetic who was almost blind, couldn’t walk without help and was dependent on others. After receiving Nicholas’ pancreas cells, she moved into an apartment of her own for the first time in her life.

A 19-year-old got Nicholas’ liver. The day he died, she was in a coma. She bounced back to health, married her childhood sweetheart a year later, and a year after that they had a baby boy, whom they named Nicholas. He is now a tall, handsome young man with no trace of the liver weakness that has dogged his family.

Andrea took longer to heal. He had been sick for so long that his strength was undermined and, whereas the other six were soon back in circulation, he only slowly came back to full health. But when he did, it was for real. He got a job, played soccer, lived more normally than he had ever been able to growing up.

And that is how things stood until we got an email on Tuesday. “His heart was still functioning,” Andrea’s longtime doctor told us, “but the lungs were fibrotic because of drug toxicity related to chemotherapy treatment received three years ago after diagnosis of lymphoma. The final cause of death was respiratory failure.”

It was deflating, like the loss of a young nephew you never dreamed would go before you did. But we don’t feel as if Nicholas died all over again, as some doctors fear will happen to donor families. And, of course, we still have no regrets about the decision we took in 1994.

When the Italian media first asked Maggie how she felt about our son’s heart being transplanted into another boy’s chest, she said: “I always hoped Nicholas would have a long life. Now I hope his heart has a long life.”

Sadly, Nicholas’ heart didn’t reach old age. It did, however, perform nobly for three decades. I’m not surprised: I always knew it was pure gold.

Published on The Los Angeles Times.  
February 13, 2017

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Twenty-two years after he was shot, Italians still keep a little American boy in their hearts.

A few weeks ago an emotional email arrived from southern Italy from people we had never met. They are the Santangelo family, who — after our seven-year old son Nicholas was shot in an attempted carjacking in southern Italy and his organs and corneas donated to seven Italians — had opened a coffee bar named for him.

Now they were telling us they had three bars, all of them named Nicholas, and were inviting us to visit them. They seemed to think of him as part of their family. One of the young men in the family has the word Nicholas tattooed on his arm. Their business cards have his face on them.

As it happened, I was giving a talk to the Italian Transplantation Society soon after and my friend and tireless worker for the cause of organ donation, Andrea Scarabelli, who lives in Rome, offered to drive me to Naples.

        On the way down, we called ahead. When we arrived at the first location the whole family was waiting on the sidewalk, the men looking serious, some of the women in tears, the children fidgeting with excitement. Immediately we walked into the group, we were engulfed in hugs and smiles and more tears, some of them mine.

They proudly showed us the huge picture of Nicholas outside the café and I caught my breath, standing next to that beloved face with the honest open look I knew so well and the gentle whimsical smile. I remembered the time I gave a reporter a list of his organs that were transplanted and adding “I wish they could have used his freckles too.”

img_2856

Inside we were given steaming cups of coffee, so concentrated in the Italian style that they barely covered the bottom of the tiny cups. I asked for a Café Americano, much bigger, though still only a juvenile version of the mug I use at home. I felt like a sissy, as if I’d asked for Miller Lite in an Irish pub.

With the exquisite tact that Italians of all walks of life show to strangers, they did not press me with questions about Nicholas but nevertheless, seeing that they seemed likely to burst with curiosity, I told them stories about him, and that Eleanor, his sister, the four-year old who was sleeping next to him on the back seat of the car when he was shot, is now a 26-year old teacher; that Maggie, my wife, is the costumer for an opera company; that our twins, born two years after the shooting, are at college; and that the drought in California has shriveled up our lawn. In short, it was like visiting friends I’d known for years.

The mayor of the little town, a suburb of Naples, came too and Dr. Giusy de Rosa, whom I met when she was a teacher at the Nicholas Green Primary School in a nearby town. A renowned nephrologist was also there, Professor Emeritus Natale de Santo of the Second University of Naples, who has done everything he can to help make transplantation an essential part of medical study. This was an opportunity, they all felt, to draw attention to the urgent need for organ donation in an unusually persuasive setting.

None of the three locations is grand, just the traditional meeting places of locals where, along with the weather and the upcoming soccer match, the story of a small American boy whose donation changed the thinking of a nation would be told over and over.

img_2864-res

 “Why did you call it Nicholas?” young people often ask, one of the family told me. “When I tell them the story, they look him up on the Internet,” he added “and, when they come back the next time, they know more about him than I do.” Including, no doubt, that in the 10 years after he was killed organ donation rates in Italy, until then the lowest among comparable European countries, tripled (!) so that thousands of people are alive who would have died.

There are many ways to spread the message of organ donation. To me this kind of spontaneous grassroots growth is the most satisfying of all.

(Written on November 2016)

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Emotional Upsurge for Italian Earthquake Victims has one Precedent: Death of a Small American Boy

The recent devastating earthquake in Italy caused an enormous increase in blood donations. Searching for a parallel, the highly-respected health writer, Margherita De Bac, could only find one: an organ donation story. Here is an excerpt from her article in Italy’s largest newspaper, Corriere della Sera.

Earthquake, the Amatrice Effect, thousands of blood donors.

“The emotion after the earthquake brought a huge number of volunteers to the blood transfusion centers. Now the people in charge of such donations hope that the solidarity does not end. It has been called ‘The Amatrice Effect’. Thousands of blood units were donated by citizens to help the victims of the shock that crumbled towns between Lazio, Abruzzo, Umbria and Marche regions. There has never been such an immediate and spontaneous response [from blood donors.] The same thing happened in 1994, when the death of Nicholas Green, the American child killed along the Salerno-Reggio Calabria highway when he was traveling with his parents, moved the consciences of the Italian people about the problem of transplants…….. Sometimes emotion is worth one thousand campaigns of awareness.”

[After Nicholas’ organs were donated, donations in Italy increased every year for the next 10 years, until they were three times as high as before he was killed.]

Link to the article: http://www.corriere.it/salute/16_agosto_29/terremoto-effetto-amatrice-d5eae0fc-6e06-11e6-8bf4-ee6b05dcd2d0.shtml

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When the Lights Are Turned Off

      In “The Gift that Heals” (www.authorhouse.com) Mindy Zoll, then a transplant coordinator with TransLife, the organ procurement organization in central Florida, described the operating room — at one time crowded and noisy with perhaps 15 or 20 people in it — as the removal of a donor’s organs comes to an end. “The first surgeon will take the heart and he’s gone, already on the roof and into the helicopter or in an ambulance, with the lights and sirens going, while the others are still working. One by one each team leaves and, in the end, it’s just two or three people cleaning up, and everything is quiet again,” she said.

“I generally help put the patient in a shroud before they are taken to the morgue and I always thank them for what they gave. I think of their family at home, in a house that suddenly seems empty, and I want them to feel that I cared for their loved one, just like I would my own.”  

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Fifteen-Year Old, Weighing 60 lb., Now Has My Son’s Heart

A few months ago I received a letter from a transplant surgeon who helped put my dead son’s heart into the body of a boy who would have died without it . He is Dr. Stefano Marianeschi, now Director of the Pediatric Surgery Unit at Niguarda Ca’ Granda hospital in Milan, one of Italy’s foremost transplant hospitals. “We have never met in person but our lives crossed in 1994,” he wrote.

At the time, Dr. Marianeschi was a young cardiac surgery assistant at Rome’s famous children’s hospital, the Bambino Gesu (Baby Jesus) where one of his patients was “a bright boy” named Andrea, 15 years old, who suffered from a complex congenital disease of the heart for which he had already had three major operations, none of which had cured him. This time the diagnosis was terminal complications from the third operation, namely protein-losing enteropathy.

“When I met him he was struggling to survive, he was grossly undernourished, weighing only 27 kilos (60 lb.)and twice a week he had to be admitted to our hospital for albumin and calcium infusions. The only hope for him to get back to a normal life was a heart transplant.”

In those days organ donations in Italy were just about the lowest in Western Europe. “People were resistant to the idea of consenting to donate the organs of their loved ones. So every heart transplant brought challenges and great emotions at the same time,” Dr. Marianeschi wrote.

“I clearly remember the night of October 2. Andrea was in our ward and suddenly we were called because there was finally a heart for him. Dr Antonio Amodeo flew to Sicily to harvest the heart. I went to the hospital and gathered with all the surgeons assisting Professor Carlo Marcelletti to perform the transplant.

 “Initially I did not know who the donor was. I was just happy for my patient to receive the transplant. But as I realized that it was Nicholas’ tragic loss that was the light at the end of a very dark tunnel it was with mixed emotions that we proceeded, trying to make the best of a bad situation. The operation went well and Andrea gradually recovered. Now he is 35 and we meet sometimes on the social media on the Internet. He is still bright like when  he was a child.”

Just another medical miracle.

I remember that night too and the numbness that came with having made a decision that meant we had given up any last hope of holding on to Nicholas. But it never entered my mind, nor Maggie’s either, that this was anything other than the overwhelmingly right thing to do. And that is as true now as it was then.

P.S. I should add that the letter was mailed from Cambodia, where Dr. Marianeschi and other doctors from Niguarda hospital work several weeks of the year to make a dent in the huge backlog of medical problems in a country where a whole generation of physicians was blighted by civil war and repressive regimes and where even now medical resources are woefully inadequate.

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Bike Race

On organ donation day in Italy (May 29), a cycling team led by Francesco Avanzini, a 62 year-old man who had a kidney transplant 29 years ago, cycled the very tough 50 kilometers, along the glorious coast from Sestri Levante to Genoa. It was like many other activities for organ donation that day but for me it had not one, not two, but three special features. First, I have become friends with Francesco and have seen a degree of moral courage in him that matches the physical courage he needed to stay alive. Second, the race went close to the very first place I stayed in Italy 65 (!) years ago when I had saved enough money to go abroad for the first time. And third could I, as a young man, have ever imagined on that first visit that a race would one day pass this way that would end at a bridge named for my own son?

genoa bridge sign

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“I’m Going to Get a New Heart from the Hospital,” Six-Year Old Tells His Family

A week after his sixth birthday Aiden Hansen was on a walk with his father, Jesse, mother, Shifra,  and little sister, Lilah, near his home in Santa Rosa, California, when a call came in telling them his new heart had arrived at Stanford Hospital and they had to leave immediately. They had been waiting for a year and a half. 

His great grandfather, Arthur Hansen, wrote to Maggie and me about it. With great care and for no pay, Arthur looks after the peaceful country graveyard in nearby Bodega where our seven-year old Nicholas is buried. This gentle, warm-hearted man has always seemed to share our grief and it was easy to see how much this moment meant to him.

                “Aiden asked his dad if he could phone Mimi, his grandmother, our daughter,” Arthur wrote. “Jesse dialed the number and gave Aiden the phone. When she answered the words tumbled out of him. ‘Mimi, my heart came in and I’m going down to get it.’ He was so excited even knowing the challenges of surgery, having had three open-heart operations already.”

                That night, as he waited to go into the operating room, he asked Mimi how late it was. “It’s 1:30,” she told him. “That’s the latest I’ve ever stayed up,” he said. His mother was nursing Lilah and couldn’t be there. “Is there anything you want to tell mommy?” Jesse asked as he took a video. “I love you,” he replied.

Aiden - Family photo

Three days later Aiden was dead, the operation being too much for his weakened little body to withstand.

Death has a necessary purpose, we know, replacing the old and infirm with the young and fresh. But death, in its clumsy way, all too often gathers up spring flowers also. And sometimes those flowers are the most beautiful of all.

“I have been in tears writing this letter to you,” Arthur wrote. And so was I.

Aiden’s parents have paid a loving tribute to him at www.aidenhansen.com.

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A Boy Joins His Heroes

A garden with one of the loveliest views in Greece has been dedicated to Nicholas by the Hellenic College of Nephrology. It stands dramatically on the edge of a soaring hill overlooking the city and bay of Volos, the port from which the Argonauts set sail to find the golden fleece.

Greece - Nicholas Green Park

It is a perfect setting for a little boy who thrilled to the classical myths. (When I read him the story of the blinded Polyphemus running his hands in a rage through the woolly coating of his sheep trying to find Ulysses and his men who were clinging underneath, I thought he would burst.)
The garden joins the 112 schools, squares, streets, parks – and one bridge – named for him in Italy. The college president, Dr. Georgios Efstratiadis and his board see the garden as a way to remind all who go there of the tens of thousands of kidney patients whose lives were saved by a transplant.

            I am taking this opportunity to thank everyone else involved, including the friendly management and staff of the Xenia Palace hotel in Portaria, on whose grounds the garden stands, and to Dr. Athanasios Diamandopoulos, a former president of the college and Professor Natale De Santo, professor emeritus at Second University of Naples, who together spearheaded this project.

The garden adds another timeless element to Nicholas’ story, who died in a hospital overlooking the Straits of Messina, where thousands of years ago Ulysses, again in the kind of fearful danger that puts young boys on the edge of their seats, navigated his ship through the narrow channel between Scylla, the monstrous rock and Charybdis, the monstrous whirlpool.

Here is a link to a beautiful video made by Giusy De Rosa, a schoolteacher in Caserta, Italy, of cities with “Nicholas’ places. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UKtm2CQP8tg

 

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