Annual blood drive in memory of children who lost their lives

October 11, 2012

Matthew and Andrew Akin Memorial Blood Drive Oct. 25, 2012


BRIDGETON, Mo. (Oct. 11, 2012) —  St. Louis area couple Justin and Kristin Akin lost their two sons, Matthew and Andrew, less than one year apart, due in part to an immune deficiency known as Hemophagocytic Lymphohistiocytosis (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 from noon to 6 p.m. Oct. 25 at All Star Dodge Chrysler Jeep, 11503 Saint Charles Rock Rd., Bridgeton, Mo.  This marks the third consecutive year the Akins have hosted a memorial blood drive for their sons, and the second such blood drive this year.  At 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 two years, he eventually died in 2009.  Less than a year later, Matthew, who also received bone marrow and blood and platelets to fight the disease, lost his own battle at the age of five.


“Andrew spent most of his life in the hospital, so he didn’t know of 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 Oct. 25 is one way to say thank you to those who donated blood, and a way to give back.


“This is our way to give back and help the families that basically have to live in the hospital with their children,” said Justin.  “We have found that helping others is ultimately what helps us.”


Learn more about the Akin’s story by picking up a copy of Kristin’s new book, “Love Trumps Grief: The Fight to Save our Sons and the Gift That Saved Us,” available wherever books are sold.

How to Donate Blood

Simply call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or visit and enter sponsor code: akinfamily 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