Acts of Kindness
7-year-old’s tragic death in Italy 28 years ago ended up saving millions of lives
A young boy tragically passed away in Italy in 1994, but his legacy has now helped save millions of lives.
Elijah Chan
09.23.22

When people pass on, we tend to talk about the purpose of why they lived.

Maybe because somehow, it alleviates the pain and reconciles the loss with our longing. It also brings about the question, is death really the end? What legacy will our loved ones leave behind?

Wikicommons
Source:
Wikicommons

In 1994, a crime robbed a family of their son and rattled a nation to its core. But through this loss, a celebration of life emerged. And while the death of Nicholas Green occurred almost 30 years ago, his heart only stopped beating last 2017.

The fateful incident happened in Italy.

Nicholas, his sister, and his parents were driving through Southern Italy. Reg Green painfully recalled the incident to BBC. He said he sensed danger when a dark car drove close to them and stayed on their tail.

YouTube Screenshot - Erik Paulsen
Source:
YouTube Screenshot - Erik Paulsen

Then, it began to overtake them. Reg thought that the car was finally passing through.

Instead, their nightmare was realized when it stayed alongside them.

YouTube Screenshot - Erik Paulsen
Source:
YouTube Screenshot - Erik Paulsen

They heard angry cries coming from the car. Instead of stopping and putting his family’s life in danger, they sped up.

The men inside the car opened fire.

“A bullet shattered the back window. Maggie turned around and both the children appeared to be fast asleep.” Reg recalled. However, the children were not asleep.

YouTube Screenshot - Erik Paulsen
Source:
YouTube Screenshot - Erik Paulsen

The car drove off after shooting at them which prompted Reg to pull over to check on everyone. When they checked on Nicholas, they saw his tongue slightly sticking out and traces of vomit on his chin. Then knew something was terribly wrong.

They rushed Nicholas to a hospital.

He was apparently shot in the back of the head and fell into a coma. Days later, the family had to brace for the worst.

YouTube Screenshot - Erik Paulsen
Source:
YouTube Screenshot - Erik Paulsen

And as they accepted the loss of their son, graciousness and generosity filled their hearts. In Nicholas’ passing, seven people’s lives were saved.

They decided to donate Nicholas’ organs.

These seven families were only just the beginning. Italy was shocked by the news and felt ashamed that a child not from their country was gunned down mercilessly. The family, in the face of grief, even showed magnanimity to the Italians when Nicholas’ organs ended up in different local patients.

YouTube Screenshot - Erik Paulsen
Source:
YouTube Screenshot - Erik Paulsen

This encouraged Italians to follow by example.

As a way to make amends, they embraced organ donation, which saved more lives.

In fact, in a phenomenon now called ‘The Nicholas Effect,” organ donations in Italy went up immediately following his death and continued to rise for the next 10 years.

Nicholas’ father said the effect “was almost instantaneous” with donations going up by 30% in the last quarter of 1994 and rising every year for the next decade until they were triple what they were before.

YouTube Screenshot - Erik Paulsen
Source:
YouTube Screenshot - Erik Paulsen

The phenomenon turned Italy into one of the nations with the highest number of organ donations in the world.

Maggie, Nicholas’ mother, said the pain never really went away.

There were times that she would ask herself if she’d be happier in her happiest moments if Nicholas was still alive. They said that the silver lining and the comfort in their tragedy is the Nicholas Effect.

Wikicommons
Source:
Wikicommons

The Greens return to Italy every now and then to raise awareness and promote organ donation. And through the people they met, Nicholas’ legacy lives on.

They met one patient whose liver was failing. She received Nicholas’ liver and survived. She then named her son after the boy.

Watch how Nicholas’ death saved the lives of thousands of people.

Please SHARE this with your friends and family.

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By Elijah Chan
hi@sbly.com
Elijah Chan is a contributor at SBLY Media.
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