Wednesday, March 19

Ikea, Killer Hot Dogs & an American Family Named Green

As readers know, every now and again, not only do I post things I just love about Italy, but I also report on some of the big issues of the day.  Which brings me to the tragedy - all too common in the USA - of the little bambino Francesco who choked on a hot dog here in Rome at Ikea, and sadly, died 4 days later.

So first, the statistics (and we have to go to the USA where hot dogs are a national treasure and because in Italy, they probably don't keep them, or maybe they keep them on grape deaths - or on the Grapes of Wrath as the case may be):  According to the American Academy of Pediatrics [and I got this info from an excellent writeup at the American Health & Safety Institute].

“From 1972 to 1992, 449 deaths from aspirated nonfood foreign bodies among children aged 14 years or younger were recorded by the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). Nearly two thirds (65%) of these fatalities were among children younger than 3 years. Latex balloons were associated with 29% of deaths overall. Choking on food causes the death of approximately 1 child every 5 days in the United States. Hot dogs accounted for 17% of food-related asphyxiations among children younger than 10 years of age in a 41-state study by Harris et al.”

Driving the point home, I particularly like the quote by one Dr. Gary Smith, who provides a clear monition for Italians everywhere who do, indeed, eat their fair share of würstel.
"If you were to design the perfect plug for a child’s airway, 
you couldn’t do much better than a hot dog"

Which brings me to little Francesco's brave parents and their decision to donate all of his wee organs.  This, in my humble opinion, is on account of an American boy, Nicholas Green who died in 1994 [and who, I've discovered, has his own wikipedia page in tribute to his short but important life and death to boot]. Back in 1994, little Nicholas was on his way to Sicily through Calabria with his family when a couple of 'Ndragheta thugs (the local mafia) mistook their car for a jeweler's they wanted to heist.  Nicholas was shot in the head.  His parents without flinching decided to donate his organs - which ended up going to seven people, including one adult; his eyes giving sight to two of them.

This generous (and at the time, audacious) donation caused a sea change in the Italian populace -- the scant organ donations skyrocketed.  It is difficult to convey the impact of the very public murder of this innocent child and how it has benefited untold thousands since.  Checking out Nicholas' page, you'll discover how his parents received an eloquent gold medal of honor for their rectitude, and how many parks and play areas scattered across the peninsula are named after him. Oh - and, you'll also find that the assassins got the book thrown at them: one for 20 years, the other, life in prison.


Harm said...

Nothing to add, just glad you're out there seeing, and writing about it...

Anonymous said...

The change wasn't IMO, donations. Of course it helped, but the change was in institutional attitudes. Gov and healthcare officials realised that too little was being done all round. Spurred on by the surge in donations, more money was invested in new structures, research etc. A far bigger achievement for the Green family.

Irreverent Italy said...

razie Italian Reflections [FB] for the insights!
For my part...I think the biggest change was...ignoring the Vatican on this issue.