October 24, 2004 in Nation/World

Recipient of murdered boy’s liver visits U.S. to offer thanks

Associated Press
Associated Press photo

Maria Pia Pedala, left, and Maggie Green embrace at the children’s bell tower Thursday in Bodega Bay, Calif.
(Full-size photo)

BODEGA BAY, Calif. – Ten years after a 7-year-old boy was slain in Italy – and his parents touched the nation by donating his organs – one of the organ recipients traveled to the child’s hometown to help honor him.

Maria Pia Pedala was dying of hepatitis in September 1994 when Nicholas Green was fatally shot in the head after robbers opened fire on his family’s car as they traveled on vacation in Calabria.

The tragedy was front-page news in Italy, and the story grew even bigger with the organ donation – something comparatively rare in that country at the time. Pedala, one of seven patients to receive transplants, was in a coma when she received Nicholas’ liver.

“I’m here thanks to Nicholas,” she said. “Nicholas is the first thing I think of when I wake up in the morning and the last thing I think of before I go to sleep.”

On Thursday, Pedala headed for Nicholas’ hometown of Bodega Bay for a ceremony at the Children’s Bell Tower, built in the boy’s memory. She brought with her a 10-pound bell to present to a man who’s running for the 10th consecutive year in a 199-mile relay designed to raise awareness of organ donation.

This weekend, Pedala planned to be at the start and the finish of the race, which begins in the wine country community of Calistoga and ends in the beach town of Santa Cruz.

Pedala, who now lives in Sicily, has done well since the transplant, although she still has to take medication and be careful to avoid infection. She is visiting America with her husband and their two young children.

Reg Green, 75, and his family recently moved to Southern California. He works full time on organ donation issues through his Nicholas Green Foundation.

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