Tag Archives: #nicholasgreen

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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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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“For 27 years, organ donation has been boosted by ‘the Nicholas effect'”

By Diane Daniel, American Heart Association News

Link to the article, AHA website: https://www.heart.org/en/news/2022/04/19/for-27-years-organ-donation-has-been-boosted-by-the-nicholas-effect

 

     Nicholas Green should’ve turned 35 this year.

Instead, a random act of violence claimed his life while he was on vacation with his family in Italy more than 27 years ago. The story captivated a worldwide audience. So did what happened next.

Nicholas’ organs and corneas were donated to seven people. His heart went to a 15-year-old boy and one of his corneas to a mother who’d struggled to see her baby.

Recognizing the opportunity to turn his family’s tragedy into a blessing for others, Reg Green, Nicholas’ father, began a quest that has changed countless lives. It’s been the source of a TV movie, the inspiration for a bell tower in California and the impetus for a campaign in Italy that could help connect more recipients with the families of their donor.

Now 93, Reg lives in La Cañada Flintridge, California, outside of Los Angeles. Although injuries have recently kept him from what used to be a daily hike in the foothills near his home, he can be found every day answering emails, making calls or writing articles in hopes of saving and improving lives via what the Italian media dubbed “the Nicholas effect.”

“It’s amazed me that it’s touched so many different people and has lasted all these years,” Reg said. “It’s a bigger thing than I could have possibly imagined.”

AHA ARTICLE April 2022

Screenshot of AHA article

The story begins in September 1994, when Reg and Maggie Green were driving on a highway in Italy. Their children, 7-year-old Nicholas and 4-year-old Eleanor, were asleep in the back seat of the family’s rental car.

Thieves thought their car was carrying jewels. They shot through the back window. Only one bullet hit any of them. It lodged at the base of Nicholas’ brain.

Over the next two days, doctors at a hospital in Sicily tried saving the boy. Meanwhile, the sensational story – a young American shot by highway robbers in Italy because of a case of mistaken identity – rapidly generated headlines throughout the country and beyond.

When doctors declared Nicholas brain-dead, Italians poured out their grief, from people on the street to the prime minister.

Maggie and Reg decided to donate Nicholas’ organs and corneas. They went to four teenagers and three adults.

If one little body could do all that, Reg thought, imagine how many could be helped if more people became organ donors?

“I knew we’d been handed an opportunity,” said Reg, who had earlier worked as a journalist in London and was then writing a financial newsletter. “I saw this as the biggest news story of my life. We had the chance to change the direction of organ donation.”

Back home in California’s Bay Area, Reg and Maggie established The Nicholas Green Foundation to support organ and tissue donation worldwide.

In Italy, the impact “was almost instantaneous,” Reg said. “Donation rates went up 30% in the fourth quarter of 1994 and rose every year for the next 10 years until they were triple what they had been before he was killed.”

Reg was soon giving interviews and publishing opinion articles in countries as diverse as India, Australia and Venezuela. He and Maggie started traveling anywhere they were invited to promote their cause. (Maggie stopped traveling as much in 1996, when she and Reg had twins, Laura and Martin.)

“People around the world were realizing, some for the first time, the power of organ donation,” Reg said.

The momentum took many forms.

In 1995, sculptor Bruce Hasson volunteered to build a bell tower dedicated to children who have died. Italians donated more than 140 bells, with the centerpiece blessed by Pope John Paul II. (In 2018, Nicolas’ sister Eleanor was married at the site of the sculpture.)

In 1998, the TV movie “Nicholas’ Gift” aired, starring Jamie Lee Curtis. Earlier this year, Curtis posted on social media a remembrance of “the privilege of portraying Maggie Green” and cited the Nicholas effect. She called organ donation “honoring, humbling and haunting.”

In the early days of the nonprofit, Reg received a letter from a 21-year-old university student in Rome named Andrea Scarabelli. He wanted to help.

Scarabelli began translating articles published in Italy into English for the Greens. He later translated Reg’s books, articles and speeches into Italian and even arranged media tours all over Italy.

“Reg and Maggie really changed the attitude of a nation,” Scarabelli said. “Now organ donation is seen as a normal thing in Italy.”

When Nicholas’ organs were donated, the Greens were tremendously moved by getting to meet the recipients. One recipient was a 19-year-old woman who nearly died the same night as the boy; she’s now the mother of two, including a boy she named Nicholas.

However, laws in Italy changed, no longer facilitating contact between organ recipients and their donor’s family. Starting in 2016, Reg and Scarabelli began pushing to give donors and recipients opportunities to meet. A bill to that effect has been introduced by a group of legislators.

Maggie praised her husband’s tireless efforts.

“I’m a willing participant, but he’s always been the engine,” she said.

Maggie said that while her family has celebrated the life and grieved the death of Nicholas with the world, they have their private remembrances as well.

“People outside the family remember the day he died,” she said. “We remember his birthday.”

 

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