Wednesday, October 29, 2008
The Nicholas Effect
October 1, 1994 was a very tragic day for the Green family.
While holidaying in Southern Italy, their seven year old son Nicholas was killed by highway robbers in a gunfire! What followed was one of the most compassionate act that humankind possibly ever witnessed, when the Green parents decided to donate the slain boy's organs to save the lives of seven people who went on to live healthy lives with the legacy of Nicholas Green. This was the beginning of what came to be known as The Nicholas Effect (l'Effetto Nicholas).
I first read the story many years ago in Readers Digest while spending vacation time in Kannur, Kerala and was immensely moved at the glorious spirit of the Green parents who at a time of terrible personal tragedy chose to remember their Godsend child by coming to the aid of seven Italians who mercifully clung to dear life while meekly oblivious of their fate with every passing moment.
At a time when organ donations were not readily heard of in Italy, this noble act came as a huge booster to prospective organ donors while adding to widespread growth of awareness. As a result, the stigma and lack of knowledge related to organ donation stemmed drastically and Italy alone witnessed a tripled rate in organ donation since the event, ranking it second in Europe, only after Spain, in the volume of organ donations conducted.
Five years later, in 1999, Reg Green, Nicholas Green's father authored The Nicholas Effect which was an instant bestseller in the United States and Italy while also having been translated in a number of languages for print across the world. Subsequently, a movie by the name of Nicholas's Gift was made casting Jamie Lee Curtis and Alan Bates. With time the young boy's name and legacy found place in many a charitable event that was associated with education, organ donation and sports.
At this juncture, I'd like to quote a message from Reg Green which talks about the seven recipients and the motivation behind The Nicholas Effect.
"These seven people are not rich or famous and their lives are marked by the struggles we all have to face. But they feel they have been reborn. Few potential donors realize what a mighty gift they have in their hands. By one action they can save other families from the devastation they themselves face. With such momentous consequences, donor families often wonder how there could be any other choice.
None of this takes away the pain. The sense that life is missing a vital ingredient is there all the time.
But donating does put something on the other side of the balance. For the rest of our lives we donor families can feel proud that our loved ones saved someone in desperate need when no one else in the world could."
It has been 14 years to the date since the incident and a couple of years since I first read about it. I get the same lump in my throat while remembering the story and have to stealthily wipe off the sometimes spontaneous teardrop that strays down my eyes! I recommend that you read this extremely moving chronicle by sourcing a copy of the Digest that published it. (It is many years old, now)
At a time when we deem it difficult to rationalize how best we can help our fellow beings while alive, this story is a remarkable account of how one boy, all but seven, made a massive difference even after he departed!
I will conclude this post with perhaps the most apt description of the Nicholas Effect.
“Do all the good you can, By all the means you can,
In all the ways you can, In all the places you can,
At all the times you can,To all the people you can,
As long as ever you can.”
(John Wesley, English Evangelist & Founder of Methodism, 1703-1791)
Do visit the The Nicholas Green Foundation
Photo Courtesy: The Nicholas Green Foundation.