THE father of a seven-year-old boy shot dead following a bungled robbery is visiting London to help promote organ donations.
Nicholas Green was gunned down in his parents car during a family trip to Italy in 1994. Following the horrific shooting dad Reg, originally from Accrington, and wife Maggie made the heartbreaking decision that they would donate their child’s organs.
And the generous act helped save the lives of seven other youngsters.
Reg, 81, formerly of Westwood Street and Avenue Parade, said: "We can’t remember ever having had a conversation about organ donation though privately both of us thought it was the right thing to do.
"On that last day, however, when he had been declared brain dead, it was quite clear that he didn’t need that body anymore though we knew that many people did need what his body could provide."
Nicholas was shot while the family were travelling between Naples and Sicily and a car pulled up next to them shouting at them to pull over.
After Reg sped up to lose the car the gunmen opened fire; shattering a window and hitting Nicholas who slept in the back seat.
He was rushed to hospital but died two days later.
After his death Nicholas’s organs, including his retinas, liver and kidneys, were donated to seven other youngsters.
"Without a transplant two of the seven would be blind and most, if not all, the others dead", Reg said.
"We have met them all but have lost touch with two of them in recent years. In the last few weeks, however, we have been in touch with the other five through an Italian friend, and all five are in good health and spirits.
"Nicholas is widely known in the transplant community as the world’s most famous organ donor and his story brought home to millions of people around the world the power of a simple decision to save multiple lives.
"He would now be 22 though I can only think of him as being seven."
Reg, a former journalist with the Guardian and Telegraph, emigrated to the US in 1970 where he now lives near Los Angeleas.
He has written two books on the subject called The Nicholas Effect and The Gift that Heals.
Since the tragic shooting Reg and Maggie have also been interviewed on TV across the world, including the Oprah Winfrey show, and helped make a TV film called Nicholas’ Gift with Jamie Lee Curtis and Alan Bates.
Reg will be visiting the UK at the beginning of February to give a speech in London.
He added: "I’ve spent the last 15 years telling as many people as I can – and in as many ways as I can think of – about the shortage of donated organs.
"In the UK three people a day die on the waiting list.
"I’m in the UK to give a speech to a conference of doctors who have been selected to spearhead a Department of Health programme aimed at increasing organ donation by 50 per cent within the next five years.
"At one time the UK had one of the highest levels of donation in the developed world but the number of deceased organ donors has been static for years and the UK now has one of the lowest rates."