The Nicholas Effect / Maria Pia Pedala's Story
You may remember hearing on the News about the young Californian, Nicholas Green, who was murdered while on holiday with his family in Italy in 1994. His parents agreed to donate Nicholas's organs, a decision that benefited seven Italians, in many cases saving their lives. "The Nicholas Effect" is the name given to the impact this tragic and generous story has had on the world. The Nicholas Green Foundation has been set up by his parents to further the cause of organ donation everywhere. There is a video titled The Nicholas Effect, which has wide exposure in the United States. The video can be ordered from Corporate Productions in Toluca Lake, California, United States. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Nicholas's father has written a book, The Nicholas Effect. This can be ordered online on the Internet, or try your local public library. Further information about this book is available at http://www.nicholaseffect.com.
Nicholas Effect: A Boy's Gift to the World
New Zealand is benefiting from the Nicholas Green Foundation through the production of a local video, filmed in December 2000. This is currently in post-production and should be available by May 2001.
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The Story of Maria Pia Pedala, recipient of Nicholas Green's liver
One warm night in September 1994 in southern Italy a vivacious 19-year old, Maria Pia Pedala, was dying of liver failure. Her brother had died of a liver disease, her mother was dead too. The family were gathering to face yet another devastating blow.
But that same night my son, seven year old Nicholas, was dying too from a bullet fired in an attempted robbery. Nothing could save him and for Maggie, my wife, and me life will never be the same again. But Maria Pia did wake up and when she did she had a new liver.
She recovered quickly and when Maggie, my wife, and I saw her four months later it was impossible to tell that she had been so desperately ill. Then, in the full bloom of womanhood, she was married and more than two years ago she had a baby, a boy, whom they have called Nicholas, a whole life that would never have been, and so far the livers of mother and son are working perfectly. When I saw her last, a few months ago in Rome, she was pregnant again, and now she has another beautiful baby, a girl this time, Alessia.
All this came from a decision that was so obvious to us that neither Maggie nor I can remember which one of us suggested it first. The doctors had told us that in Nicholas’ brain, which had been so full of colourful fancies and high ideals, there was no longer any activity.
Obviously we would have done anything to keep Nicholas alive, however badly injured, to put our arms round him, take him home and nurse him. But that option was not open. His brain, which had been so full of colourful fancies and high ideals, was now quite dead. So we did the only thing we could do that would bring some good out of this dreadful affair. It was a decision that turned out to have momentous consequences we could never have dreamed of.
Even the initial results were far more than we imagined: there were seven recipients of his organs, two of them going blind, the others dangerously ill. All seven are now living full productive lives.
But in addition the donations seemed to take Italy by storm: the Prime Minister asked to see us, we were flown home in the President’s own aircraft, schools, streets and the largest hospital in Italy have been named for Nicholas. Best of all organ donation rates have more than doubled so that literally thousands of people are alive today who would have died.
Nicholas’ story quickly went to all corners of the world -- we’ve been told of news coverage in Nepal and Kuwait, Russia and Argentina -- and to this day we still get letters from people who say their attitude to organ donation has been changed by what they’ve heard.
Maggie and I regard it now as our life’s work to write, make speeches, produce videos and give interviews to let it be known that thousands and thousands of people, many of them children, some just babies, die every year because donation rates everywhere are too low. I can’t believe that we cannot cure this problem if enough people know of the suffering that a refusal to donate causes.
© Reg Green 2001
This article has also been published in our Newsletter, "Hepatic Happenings", Volume 2, No. 2, April 2001.
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Last updated 08/06/2010