SMITH: Nearly 20 years later, Nicholas' gift still inspires

  • PC: New plaque for Nicholas Green at Nicholas Green Park in Bodega Bay.

    5/25/2001: B3-B: Nicholas Green, the Bodega Bay boy whose 1994 shooting death while on vacation in Italy led to a surge in organ donations in that country, was recognized with a plaque at the Nicholas Green Park in Bodega Bay.

Remember 7-year-old Nicholas Green of Bodega Bay?

I'll never forget the sweet and inquisitive lad, though we never met. In 1994, I wrote the first stories about the bandits who chased his family's rented car in Italy, and about the anguished decision by his parents, Maggie and Reg, to donate his organs to seven seriously ailing Italians after Nicholas was shot to death.

Perhaps no other act has done more to encourage people everywhere to consider organ donation for themselves and for loved ones who die unexpectedly.

The Greens — the family includes Nicholas' younger sister, Eleanor, who's now 23, and twins Martin and Laura, 17 — moved years ago to Southern California. But Reg was back in Sonoma County the other day.

He said in a talk to the World Affairs Council of Sonoma County that he still hears from people around the globe who've been awakened to the issue of organ donation, perhaps by a death or through a rerun of the 1998 TV movie, "Nicholas' Gift."

"It continues to be on the television in the remotest places," said Reg, who's now 84.

He's still talking, writing and working pretty much full time to sustain his son's legacy. He told me he believes that when the issue of organ donation arises, there sometimes springs to mind the story of the Bodega Bay boy whose death gave life to others.

"One has the feeling," he said, "that without being seen, this stuff is trickling down."

BAPTISM BY WATER: Pastor Steve Puleo perked up upon seeing the news story about the construction project to upgrade the performance hall at the Wells Fargo Center.

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