This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," December 30, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
SHANNON BREAM, FOX NEWS GUEST HOST: It's been called the "Nicholas Effect," the amazing positive impact that a 7-year-old boy named Nicholas Green has had on the entire world in the years since he was murdered. In 1994, Green was killed by highway robbers while his family was on vacation in Italy. They made a tough decision to donate the boy's corneas and organs to people who needed them. Tonight, you get the inspiring story from the family of Nicholas Green. They went "On the Record" with Greta.
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Nice to see all three of you. You know, we wanted to do this story because, you know, it's a terrible tragedy for your family, but it's inspiring for the rest of us. Do you -- do you understand how we would be inspired by it? Maggie?
MAGGIE GREEN, MOTHER: Oh, we hope so. That's -- our aim isn't to make people cry, though we do that often enough. Our aim is to make people see what a difference this gift can be.
VAN SUSTEREN: Reg, it says that you've written a book about it. Take me back to 1994, before your son Nicholas died. What were you -- what was the family doing? What did you do for a living?
REG GREEN, FATHER OF NICHOLAS GREEN: I'd been a journalist most of my life. I had a newsletter that I was editing in those days. And Nicholas then was -- had just turned 7. So we were together a lot. You know, a lot of -- he was very imaginative little boy, and so going out with him was always a delight because there was always something new to look at. He kept seeing new things. I mean, we would go out and he would -- he would tell me about what some kid did at recess that day, but at the same time, we were keeping our eye out for enemy agents or -- or the navy that might land at any time. So it was always exciting to be with Nicholas.
VAN SUSTEREN: What happened?
REG GREEN: We were driving to Sicily and driving along the main road south. It was night, but not late, when a car drove up alongside us and through the night there came the sound of these loud, angry, savage cries, obviously telling us to pull over. We couldn't understand the word but it was quite clear what they wanted us to do.
It seemed to me that if we did stop we would be completely MSC, so instead I accelerated. And they accelerated too. And a moment later, there was a deafening shot, and the window behind the driver's window where the children were sleeping was blown in, obviously by a bullet.
Maggie in the front seat turned around to make sure they were safe. Both of them appeared to be sleeping peacefully, and then our window was blown in.
But by now we were beginning to pull away from them and they finally disappeared back into the night. We raced down at top speed. And as it happened, there had been an accident on the road. Police were there, there was an ambulance.
And when I stopped and opened the door, the light came on and Nicholas didn't move. And I looked closer and saw that his tongue was sticking out and there was a slight trace of vomit on his chin. And that is the first thing we knew anything happened. And two days later, without regaining consciousness he was declared brain dead.
VAN SUSTEREN: Nobody arrested for it?
REG GREEN: Yes. The police were very clear that it was some local hoodlums who had done this. Organized crime does not kill children.
And they caught these people very soon, and there was a long trial, and eventually they were convicted. One of them admitted to killing four other people, though it was denied that he killed Nicholas. And they were sentenced to life imprisonment and other one for 20 years.
VAN SUSTEREN: I guess it's hard to understand how others would feel, I mean how you measure your devastation, whether you get paralyzed or whether you get active.
But even in the whole story of all of a sudden your child is there on a family vacation everything is fun and exciting, inspiring, and all of a sudden your world is never the same.
MAGGIE GREEN: Yes, that's just it. And it took several days for us to find out how our world would never be the same. We started out expecting that our world would involve maybe a paralyzed child.
VAN SUSTEREN: Which looked good, which is something you would have loved.
MAGGIE GREEN: It didn't look like a great option at the time, but looking back, yes, we could have dealt with that. And gradually, those hopes withered.
REG GREEN: I remember thinking how am I going to get through the rest of my life without him. It really was devastating.
And it was only later when we knew that there was absolutely no hope, that Maggie said, now that he's gone, we should donate the organs. And suddenly it became clear that there was something good that could come out of this dreadful business. And what we didn't know at the time was just how much good it could be.
VAN SUSTEREN: Did the hospital approach you or did you approach them and say, I would like to donate my son's organs? How did that transpire?
MAGGIE GREEN: We had to ask them, and looking back I'm pretty sure they wouldn't have asked us. It would have seemed like too much of an imposition, too difficult to ask a foreign family to do something.
And apparently it was probably too much to ask many families in Italy because the donation rates were very low. But once we suggested it, it was clear that they knew just what they were doing they would run a series of tests to make sure there was no mistake.
I was astonished to find out that donation rates were low there, because they clearly had a procedure and knew what they were doing.
VAN SUSTEREN: What made you do it? What was it -- how do you get out of your grief fast enough to have the wherewithal to do something so big for so many others?
MAGGIE GREEN: Well, Nicholas' body was perfect. He had nothing wrong with him. He had been shot in the base of his brain. His brain was dead and the machines were breathing for him and keeping his heart alive.
That seemed wrong, you know, that this body that wasn't alive was being supported. And instead, we have this opportunity to use this heart that was still beating. His kidneys were still functioning, that they could save someone else.
We would have kept him alive anyway we could if he had been alive.
BREAM: Up next, more with the family of Nicholas Green -- how many people were saved by the gift that little Nicholas gave to them? Find out as this amazing, inspiring story continues.
BREAM: The murder of seven-year-old Nicholas Green was a tragedy, but his family turned it into an inspiring chance to literally save lives. How many people were saved? How many lives were changed? The Green family went "On the Record" with Greta.
VAN SUSTEREN: So the decision was made. The organs were then taken from your son, and did you bring your son back to the United States for burial, or was he buried in Italy?
REG GREEN: We flew home. There was a huge upsurge of emotion in Italy all this time, right from the beginning that a child, an American child, particularly a guest, had been killed, made it a front-page story and led the news for those two or three days.
And then when it was found out that we made this decision, it ratcheted up just to a new level. The prime minister asked to see us, the president of Italy asked to see us, and we were flown home in his own aircraft.
Nicholas' body was brought home in a military plane a couple of days later. That was the thing that we thought about at the time, wouldn't he have loved this.
And the honor guard who came with him arrived at dead of night in lonely air field near San Francisco and insisted on performing the full ceremonial due to a national hero even though there no one was there to watch.
So the whole of Italy seemed to put their arms around us and comfort us in whatever way they could.
VAN SUSTEREN: How many people did receive organs?
REG GREEN: There were two who got the corneas and then five who got the organs.
VAN SUSTEREN: So he had a heart, two kidneys?
REG GREEN: Pancreas and the liver.
MAGGIE GREEN: He was too young to donate skin or bone. If he had been older, then there could have been hundreds. And they couldn't use his lungs. Apparently that is not uncommon, because they are very delicate, or maybe there was something else. Maybe there wasn't a match. But of course these are all things we have learned since.
VAN SUSTEREN: Let's start with the corneas, the two recipients -- was it successful?
REG GREEN: Yes. But they were the parents, a man and a woman, two different families of young children, both going blind. Now we have been in touch with them just in the last few weeks, and both are doing fine.
VAN SUSTEREN: And it worked?
REG GREEN: Yes.
VAN SUSTEREN: Were they blind or almost blind? What was their vision?
MAGGIE GREEN: I think almost blind.
REG GREEN: Yes, I think so.
VAN SUSTEREN: Had you talked to them around the time of '94, of Nicholas' death, or just recently was the first time you spoke to them?
REG GREEN: What happened was, as Maggie says, because these people were known almost instantly, they -- we were asked to go back to Italy three or four months afterwards. And so there was a big ceremony.
In fact, it was very theatrical. They were kept in a different room and weren't allowed to see them and in this enormous hall with dignitaries and archbishops and cardinals and doctors and so on, and families.
The door opened and in they came. Just the immediate families were there, the fathers, mothers and the brothers and sisters. And it was like a whole army of people, some smiling, some tearful, some ebullient, some shy.
And it was at that moment that I realized for the first time the tremendous power of transplantation to transform lives. I mean all those peoples' lives have been changed. Not just them, but the grandparents who would have been devastated and the people they meet in life and the children they'll have.
So from generation to generation, a decision that was so obvious to us we didn't even debate it is having these reverberating effects.
VAN SUSTEREN: Do you have a sense how big this is? Because you were a child when it happened, but do you have a sense of how much your brother has helped other people's lives?
ELEANOR GREEN, SISTER OF NICHOLAS GREEN: I think that one of the most special moments for me just happened in the past year. I got to meet Maria Pia again. She was 19-year-old when she got Nicholas' organs, which is the same age I am now. And she was on her death bed the same night she got the organ.
And so many people my age don't even think about death. It's so distant, right? It's not something you can conceive of. But for her, her life was over. And as far as I know, I have my whole life ahead of me. And since, she has had two children which she would have never had.
VAN SUSTEREN: What did she say to you?
ELEANOR GREEN: All she could say was "Thank you." It was almost too much for her to try to put into words how grateful she was, that she had this life that she wouldn't have had.
I'm sorry. I don't have as much practice as they do talking about this.
But meeting her two children, and her son she named Nicholas, actually. Knowing that they're here and would never have been without my parents' decision and my brother's organs just makes me very proud.
VAN SUSTEREN: You and I talked about Prime Minister Berlusconi. You and Maggie met him.
REG GREEN: Yes. He sent a message that he would like to see us immediately after our decision was made to donate the organs. So we went along, and there was nobody else there except the American ambassador. No photographers. It wasn't an occasion in which he was showing off.
He talked to us like a family member might, and spoke in English. We were told later that he prides himself on his great command of Italian, and therefore it was a sign of affection that he would speak in our language.
And then when we went down to the car, he walked down to the car with us. And as we got in, he said, "May I embrace you?" And he was very correct up until this point, very unemotional.
As he put his face to mine, I felt a cold tear run down the side of his face. I can still feel it on my cheek. He obviously was laboring under great emotion but didn't want to show it to upset us.
BREAM: And there is so much more of Greta's amazing interview with the Green family. You can check it out. Nicholas' father showed Greta some really special mementos from people who were touched by the little boy's story.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VAN SUSTEREN: You have a lot of these are from your son. Who did the sculpture?
REG GREEN: Those are two that just arrived from complete strangers in Italy. This is Nicholas as he was, we think -- very smooth cheeks and classical features. It looks very much like him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BREAM: So go to Gretawire.com for more stories from Nicholas's father, and then you can go to GretaWire.com next week for Greta's full interview with the Green family.
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