ROME (AP) _ A vacationing American family turned the tragedy of their son's slaying into a chance of life for five other people who received the 7-year-old's organs.

Nicholas Green of Bodega Bay, Calif., was shot in the head by masked bandits in a robbery attempt Thursday as his family drove to Sicily.

He was declared brain dead Saturday in a Sicilian hospital, and his parents donated his organs that night. The transplant operations took place Sunday.

Nicholas' heart was given to a 15-year-old boy named Andrea Mongiardo, whose heart problems since birth stunted his growth.

His liver was donated to a 19-year-old Sicilian woman and his kidneys went to two children from the south. His pancreas went to a diabetic patient in Perugia.

''I'd like to tell him and his parents thanks,'' 11-year-old Tino Motta told reporters from his hospital bed in Catania shortly before going into surgery to receive a kidney. Motta had been on dialysis for a year.

Andrea, who weighs only 60 pounds, had numerous operations before and was judged the neediest of Italian children awaiting a heart, Carlo Marcelletti, chief cardiologist at Rome's Bambin Gesu Hospital, said in an interview on RAI television.

The practice of donating organs in Italy is not widespread, Marcelletti said. He said he hoped the Greens' generosity would ''push all those in the same situation like Nicholas to donate.''

Italy has one of the lowest rates of organ donation in the West, and many Italians are forced to travel abroad, sometimes as far as Asia, for a transplant. RAI said 500 Italians, including 80 children, are waiting for heart transplants.

Since the shooting, authorities have ordered increased patrols of the stretch of highway where the shooting took place, which is known for holdups. Victims are often singled out after robbers spot them at a rest stop, as apparently happened with the Green family.

Police are examining film from a camera in the coffee shop in hopes of catching a glimpse of a suspect, the Italian news agency ANSA reported.