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Russian filmmakers focus on Green family's organ donation story

The pair hopes to spread organ donation awareness in their homeland.

February 12, 2014|By Sara Cardine
  • Russian TV journalist and former talk show host Olga Drozdova looks at the view with Reg Green from his backyard. Green, a La Cañada Flintridge resident, was interviewed by a Russian TV crew at his home off on Sunday, February 2, 2014 about the family's personal experience with organ donation.
Russian TV journalist and former talk show host Olga Drozdova… (Photo by Mike Mullen )

In the past two decades, La Cañada resident Reg Green has gotten really comfortable with the word “yes.”

He’s become a spokesman for organ donation after the 1994 death of his 7-year-old son, Nicholas, during a family vacation in Italy led to a decision to donate the youngster’s healthy organs. The gift saved the lives of five people.

PHOTOS: Reg Green and family share organ donation story with Russian TV crew

That tragic event spawned international interest in Nicholas’ story. Resulting from that have been hundreds of interviews, articles and events related to Nicholas and the larger issue of donation. The Nicholas Cup, part of the Winter World Transplant Games, was held in Haute-Savioe, France, in January.

And it’s all because Reg Green made a decision long ago to never let the fire of his son’s legacy go out.

Now the cause has spread to Russia, where two filmmakers hope to use the Green family’s story to inspire a nation in which organ donation has yet to gain a significant foothold.

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Green has received thousands of letters and emails from people across the globe who were touched and want to know more. Some saw the 1998 TV movie, “Nicholas’ Gift,” starring Jamie Lee Curtis. Others were inspired by Reg Green’s books, “The Nicholas Effect” and “The Gift that Heals,” and come seeking interviews for an article, film or TV show.

“I always say yes,” Reg Green says. “I made the decision if someone is going to bare their soul, you can’t ignore them, and you cannot send them a form letter.”

And so, on Super Bowl Sunday, while others geared up for game day, the Greens entertained Russian TV producer Olga Drozdova and cameraman Mikhail Kliuev, who’d flown from St. Petersburg to film a documentary they plan to make on organ donation.

“It is a very complicated topic for our country,” Drozdova wrote in her first email to Reg Green. “Despite all the medical opportunities, the number of organ transplantation operations in Russia is extremely small. The story of Nicholas Green and his family is almost unknown in Russia, so I would like to tell it to the Russian audience.”

Filming inside and outside the Greens’ home, Drozdova gently instructs Reg and his wife, Maggie, in broken English, to look at photos of Nicholas or to talk to one another on the living room sofa.

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