As his family's month-long vacation to Italy approached, seven year-old Nicholas Green became increasingly excited about the trip. The rosy-cheeked second grader devoured books on Roman history. He announced that Julius Caesar was his new hero. Nicholas showed great interest in the Greek and Roman myths that his mother, Maggie, read to him, particularly the one about Persephone. She was the young goddess kidnapped by the King of the Underworld but, because of her mothers grief allowed to return to earth for a few months each year. "The idea of a sad little person below the ground and the joy of coming back again, he seemed to get the idea of rebirth in an adult way" recalled his father Reginal Green. For the Green family the tale would soon seem bitterly poignant.
On September 29, 1994, as the Greens from Bodega Bay, California drove at night along a desolate highway in southern Italy with Nicholas and his little sister, Eleanor; a small light colored car overtook them.
Two men inside, their faces hidden by kerchiefs shouted in Italian and gestured for Reginal Green to pull over. When Green fearing for his family, didn't, the men open fire. Little Nicholas, who was sleeping on the back seat, was struck in the head with a bullet. He died in the hospital two days later.
As a nation, all of Italy was horrified by the crime then deeply moved by the Greens unexpected response. Rather than reacting with justifiable bitterness, Reginal and Maggie Green donated their son's organs to seven Italians. If this were your child what would you do? Organ and tissue transplantation is one of this century's medical triumphs. It has become a routine practice that can dramatically improve and save the lives of those suffering from vital organ failure, or...