American Red Cross blood drive in memory of Akin children

May 3, 2013

Brothers died from immune deficiency


BRIDGETON, Mo. (May 3, 2013) –Justin and Kristin Akin, a couple from the Saint Louis area, lost their two sons, Matthew and Andrew less than one year apart, due in part to an immune deficiency commonly known as HLH. Instead of letting the loss of their two young children defeat them, the Akins are turning the tragedy into an opportunity to help others.


The Akins and the American Red Cross will hold a blood drive in memory of Matthew and Andrew on Friday, May 17. All eligible donors are encouraged to stop by to give the gift of life.


At just 10 weeks old, Andrew Akin nearly died from liver failure, a result of the HLH. While bone marrow transplants and blood and platelet transfusions kept him alive for a couple years, he eventually died in 2009, at the age of 2. Less than a year later, Matthew, who also received a bone marrow transplant and blood and platelets to fight the disease, lost his own battle at the age of 5.


“Andrew spent most of his life in the hospital, so he didn’t know anything different,” said Justin Akin. “But he was always laughing, always smiling.  Meanwhile, Matthew lived his life as an adventure.”


Now, the Akins and the Red Cross want to keep the adventure going for people of all ages who may need blood or platelets.  Justin said the blood drive on May 17 is one way to say thank you to those who donated the blood received by Andrew and Matthew, and a way to give back to the community.


“Without those selfless donors, we wouldn’t have gotten to spend as much time as we did with our sons,” he said.


Akin Family Memorial Blood Drive

May 17 from 12 to 6 p.m. at All Star Dodge Chrysler Jeep

11503 St. Charles Rock Road, Bridgeton, Mo.


To learn more about Matthew and Andrew Akin, and the foundation set up in their honor, visit

How to Donate Blood

Simply call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or visit to make an appointment or for more information. All blood types are needed to ensure a reliable supply for patients. A blood donor card or driver’s license, or two other forms of identification are required at check-in.  Individuals who are 17 years of age (16 with parental permission in some states), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements. 


About the American Red Cross

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit or join our blog at