Twenty years ago, Reg Green and his family headed to Italy for a vacation that sadly ended in tragedy. Late one night, Reg’s wife, Maggie, and their two young children, 7-year-old Nicholas and 4-year-old Eleanor, fell asleep as Reg drove back to their hotel. Suddenly, a car began to tail the Greens’ rental car. The car was loaded with highway robbers who mistakenly thought the Greens were transporting jewelry. The car sped along next to the Greens’ car and demanded Reg pull over. Scared that stopping the car would cause harm to his family, Reg attempted to flee, speeding away from the robbers. The robbers fired multiple shots at the Greens’ rental car and disappeared into the night. Reg drove until he found an ambulance attending a car accident and checked on his family.
When Reg pulled over, he found that Nicholas had been shot in the back of the head. The family traveled to a nearby hospital, and later transferred Nicholas to a bigger hospital to attend to his wounds. Two days later, Nicholas was declared dead.
In their toughest moment as parents, Maggie asked Reg if they should donate Nicholas’s organs, since his little body didn’t need them anymore. Reg agreed. “Some good could come out of what had been unbelievably bleak. We knew there were many people out there who desperately needed what that little body could give,” said Reg.
Little Nicholas’s organs were used to save seven people’s lives in Italy. Five people got organs and two others got corneas.
“We thought that was the end of the story. We were going home and packing our bags, but Italy erupted into a storm of emotion,” said Reg. “Organ donation rates went up immediately. And the donation rates went up for 10 years, year after year. Thousands of people are alive, many of them children, who would have died if not for the surge in organ donations.”
It’s been 20 years since Nicholas passed, but his memory lives on. Besides inspiring a storm of organ donations in Italy, Nicholas inspired the Bell Memorial in Bodega Bay, California. Many families visit the memorial to give thanks for their children, while others find some solace for a loss. Since their son’s passing, Maggie and Reg travel around the world urging people to donate their organs or their loved one’s organs to save lives.
“We want to interject the idea that organ donation is a good thing. Let’s overcome the overwhelming grief at the time and decide to donate to save other lives,” said Reg.
Learn more about Reg Green’s efforts and the Green family’s story at www.nicholasgreen.org.