The Greatest Gift

By Perry, Patrick | The Saturday Evening Post, January-February 1995 | Go to article overview

The Greatest Gift

Perry, Patrick, The Saturday Evening Post

When bandits fatally shot seven-year-old Nicholas Green of California while the family was vacationing in southern Italy, his grieving parents made a difficult decision. Nicholas' life had been wasted in a senseless tragedy, but the boy's parents, Reginald and Maggie Green, wanted his healthy organs to bring life to others. Nicholas' donated heart went to a 15-year-old boy with congenital heart problems, his liver to a 19-year-old Sicilian woman, and his kidneys to two other children.

The Green's magnanimous act touched people across the world. Calls to the Organ Donor Association in Italy, a country with one of the world's lowest organ donation rates, increased fivefold after Nicholas' death, according to Pier Geatano Dellan, agency director. The worldwide publicity also focused national attention onto the 36,500 Americans presently on transplant waiting lists. Each day, the lists grow. Each day, eight or nine die waiting.

Last September, Rick and Theresa Leibold of Indianapolis were anxiously awaiting the birth of their second child. With the nursery ready and a smooth pregnancy, the young couple anticipated no problems. Moments after a normal delivery, however, the pediatrician became concerned about the infant's pale color. As a precaution, he rushed the newborn, Samuel Richard, to intensive care. Little Sam was, in fact, very ill. Born without the upper left chamber of his heart, he would not survive without drastic medical intervention. The Leibolds were confronted with two options: the first, a surgical heart repair that had proved statistically less successful than the couple's second possible option, a transplant.

"The information the doctors were giving us was not at all hopeful," Rick Leibold recalls. "We felt, however, that the grace of God was with us the whole time. Things were going to work out."

Sam's name was immediately placed on an organ donor waiting list, joining 36,500 other Americans in need of organ transplants. A week later, the Leibolds received a call. A suitable infant heart had become available and prequalified for their son. After a complicated but successful transplant surgery, Samuel Richard Leibold went home with his parents and three-year-old sister, McKenna, in late October.

"Sam should live a normal life," Rick says. "The doctors anticipate his being a normal child. The prognosis is great!"

But Sam was one of the lucky ones.

For others, the future is less hopeful because the demand for donor organs far outpaces the supply. Although organ transplantation is one of the most remarkable chapters in medical history, the biggest obstacle transplant science faces today is the severe shortage of suitable organs to transplant.

"In 1993, more than 50,000 transplant patients were registered on the national waiting list over the course of the year," says Joel Newman, spokesperson for United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), the national organization that oversees the allocation of all donated organs in the United States. "Unfortunately, 3,000 died waiting."

Certainly, no one knows the story better than the transplant teams.

"The more you are able to achieve success in patients, the more frustrated you are by the inability to get adequate numbers of donors when you know that if you had them, you would achieve a lot," says Dr. Joel Cooper, who performed the first successful single- and double-lung transplant and is now performing transplants at Barnes Hospital in St. Louis.

Dr. Cooper is hopeful that research into the use of organs from another animal species will someday help eliminate this critical shortage and save lives. But the process, known as xenografting, is still 15 or 20 years away at best.

Ironically, national Gallup polls and local surveys indicate that 85 percent of Americans believe in organ donation, but they fail to take the critical step of conveying those wishes to family members. Many assume it is enough just to fill out the back of a driver's license or an organ donor card, but this does not ensure donation will take place. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25,

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

The Greatest Gift


Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25,

    New feature

    It is estimated that 1 in 10 people have dyslexia, and in an effort to make Questia easier to use for those people, we have added a new choice of font to the Reader. That font is called OpenDyslexic, and has been designed to help with some of the symptoms of dyslexia. For more information on this font, please visit

    To use OpenDyslexic, choose it from the Typeface list in Font settings.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search


    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.