September 9, 1987|
San Francisco, California
|Died||October 1, 1994
Nicholas Green (September 9, 1987 – October 1, 1994) was an Anglo-American boy who was shot and killed in an attempted car robbery while vacationing with his family in Southern Italy. Robbers mistook their family car for a jeweller's. When Nicholas died, his parents chose to donate his organs. Five people received his major organs, and two received a cornea transplant. The incident is credited with generating a significant increase in the rate of organ donation in Italy.
Nicholas Green, his sister, Eleanor Green, and their parents, Margaret and Reginald Green, were having a holiday in Calabria, Southern Italy. On the night of September 29, 1994 his parents were driving on the A3 motorway between Salerno and Reggio Calabria. They stopped at an Autogrill, where two men started following their car believing they were jewellers. The men pulled up alongside the Greens' vehicle and shouted something in Italian, which the Greens did not understand. Reginald Green accelerated, at which point the men fired shots into the rear of the car. He accelerated a second time, and once again the men shot into the back of the car. After the pursuers gave up Reginald stopped the car, and at this point he and Margaret realized that Nicholas had been shot in the head. They drove directly to the nearest town, but the hospital was not equipped to deal with Nicholas' injuries. The police took the family to Villa San Giovanni, where they transferred to a ferry which brought them across the Strait of Messina to the port of Messina. From there, the police took them to a specialist head injuries unit at a nearby hospital, where he was pronounced dead the next day.
In May 1996 the Greens had twins, a girl (Laura) and a boy (Martin). Since their loss, the Greens have been strong supporters of organ donation and they have been traveling throughout the world to spread the message of donation and tell their story.
Aftermath in Italy
Following their decision of donating Nicholas' organs, Nicholas' parents were received by Italy's President (Oscar Luigi Scalfaro). They were awarded Italy's highest honour for civilians "Medaglia d'Oro al Merito Civile". After Nicholas' death, donation rates increased dramatically in Italy, a country where organ donations had been among the lowest in Europe. According to 2017 data, organ donations in Italy have more than tripled since. Many elementary schools as well as city locations/addresses all over the country were named after Nicholas.
Following the shooting, Italian police arrested two men on November 2, 1994, Francesco Mesiano and Michele Iannello. They were tried in Catanzaro by a court consisting of three judges, and on January 17, 1997 they were found not guilty. Reginald Green had been unable to identify them, as the shooters had both been wearing masks, and it was dark. However, a year later, with no new evidence, an appellate court with a jury convicted the pair. This decision was upheld by Italy's supreme court in 1999.
After Nicholas' death, donation rates increased dramatically in Italy, a country where organ donations had been among the lowest in Europe. According to 2017 data, organ donations in Italy have more than tripled since. Nicholas' name continues to be associated with organ donation, and is acknowledged as the most famous organ donor in the world. The result of his parents' decision has been called "The Nicholas Effect" (l'Effetto Nicholas) and refers not only to organ donation but also to everything good that emerged from the tragedy.
A memorial bell tower (The Children's Bell Tower) has been built in Bodega Bay in memory of Nicholas Green and all the children, using more than 140 bells sent to the Greens from individuals, families, schools, and churches all over Italy. The monument, set in Bodega Bay, where Nicholas and his family lived, has become a place of pilgrimage as well as a tourist attraction. The central bell, donated by the Marinelli Foundry, that has been making bells for the Papacy for more than 1000 years, was blessed by Pope John Paul II. It has the names of the seven recipients of Nicholas' organs inscribed on it. The monument is the work of San Francisco sculptor Bruce Hasson.
Another sculpture, called "The Birds", has been donated by the Greens to the Calabria Region and is located at the Regional Council Palace. It depicts seven birds (like Nicholas' organs that were donated and the number of the recipients) made of steel, floating in a sort of tower. This monument is also the work of Bruce Hasson. He used the steel of guns confiscated by San Francisco Police Department.
An educational video has been made out of their story, called 'The Nicholas Effect'. It is currently shown in hospitals all around the United States and is used by procurement organizations, hospitals, churches, to spread a message of solidarity and the importance of donation. It tells the story of Nicholas, how his organs saved the lives of seven very sick Italians, and how this thing changed the attitude of a whole Country towards organ donation. Since Nicholas died, organ donation rates in Italy have more than tripled, bringing Italy from being at the bottom among European Countries in donation to one of the top of the list (currently Italy is second, after Spain, as far as organ donation rates).
Reginald Green wrote two books: the first called "The Nicholas Effect" (Il Dono di Nicholas, in Italiano) and the second called "The Gift that Heals" (Il Dono che Guarisce, in Italian), published jointly with UNOS (United Network for Organ Sharing) - the non-profit organization that manages the United States's organ transplant system under contract with the federal government. Both books have been highly acclaimed by media and specialists of organ donation all around the world . They are used in nursing schools, hospitals, churches, since the books are considered a complete and useful work on organ donation.     
The Greens established also a Scholarship for primary and middle school children in the United States that every year goes to a student in every State that distinguished himself. The Award is managed by the NAGC (the National Association for Gifted Children).
The World Transplant Game Federation dedicated to Nicholas Green the ski race for transplanted children: it is the "Nicholas Cup". It has been held in Nendaz Switzerland in 2001, Bormio in Northern Italy in 2004, Poland in 2005, Rovaniemi Finland in 2008, Anzere Switzerland in March 2012 and La Chapelle D'Abondance France in January 2014.
For the full list of places named for Nicholas Green in Italy and a map, visit https://nicholaseffect.org/places-named-for-nicholas-in-italy/
The Children's Bell Tower is located in Bodega Bay, off Route 1. GPS (N 38° 20.448 W 123° 03.126)
- Cowell, Alan (October 4, 1994). "Italy Moved by Boy's Killing And the Grace of His Parents". The New York Times. p. A1. Retrieved 2010-02-03.
- Parsons, Sandra; Singleton, Ronald (February 6, 1995). "Gathering Of The 'Family' Who Share Boy's Legacy Of Life". Daily Mail. London. p. 21.
- Cowell, Alan (October 23, 1994). "A Child's Killing Puts Focus on Italy's Roads". The New York Times. p. 53. Retrieved 2010-02-03.
- Sparrow, Andrew (October 1, 1994). "Gangsters Shoot British Boy In Car". Daily Mail. London. p. 5.
- Cowell, Alan (November 2, 1994). "Italy Detains 2 in Highway Killing of U.S. Boy, 7". The New York Times. p. A5. Retrieved 2010-02-03.
- Tagliabue, John (January 17, 1997). "Italy Acquits 2 in Killing of U.S. Boy Whose Organs Were Donated". The New York Times. p. A4. Retrieved 2010-02-03.
- Callahan, Mary (April 17, 1999). "Convictions Upheld In Nicholas Green Case". The Press Democrat. Santa Rosa, CA, USA. p. B2.
- "The Nicholas Cup". World Transplant Games Federation. Retrieved 2010-02-03.
- Lyman, Rick (April 25, 1998). "A Boy Is Slain, and Gives Life to Others". The New York Times. p. B15. Retrieved 2010-02-03.
- (Italian) Quattordici anni fa veniva ucciso il piccolo Nicholas Green. Intitolata in suo onore la scuola elementare di viale Europa
- (Italian) “Un parco giochi dedicato a Nicholas Green”
- (Italian) Presa d'atto della deliberazione G.C. n. 1129 del 21-10-1997 e conferma intitolazione villa comunale situata tra via Genova, via Marina e via Bari a Nicholas Green
- (Italian) Il padre di Nicholas Green a Marcianise
- (Italian) Monticelli dedica una strada al piccolo Nicholas Green
- (Italian) Nuovo parco al Lodolino, alla memoria di Nicholas Green
- (Italian) Una strada dedicata a Nicholas Green, piccolo “paladino” della donazione d’organi, vicino all’ex casello autostradale
- (Italian) Benedizione delle targhe d'intitolazione dell'archivio, di due scuole e dell'asilo
- (Italian) Festeggiato il decennale dell'intitolazione della piazza a Nicholas Green
- (Italian) Un giardino per Nicholas
- The Nicholas Green Foundation
- The Nicholas Effect; Reginald Green's Blog on his son Nicholas and organ donation topics: https://nicholaseffect.org/
- National Association for Gifted Children-Nicholas Green Distinguished Student National Award