Blood Drive in Memory of Children Who Lost Their Lives

May 1, 2012

Brothers Died From Immune Deficiency



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, or HLH.  But 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 11, from 12:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. at All Star Dodge Chrysler Jeep, at 11503 St. Charles Rock Road in Bridgeton.  All eligible donors are encouraged to make an appointment or stop by to give the gift of life.

At the age of just 10 weeks, 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 two.  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 on May 11 is one way to say thank you to those who donated blood, and a way to give back.

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

            If you’d like to help a patient in need, make an appointment to donate blood at the drive on May 11.  You can do so by visiting or calling 1-800-RED CROSS.

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




How to Donate Blood:

Simply call 1-800-RED CROSS or visit to make an appointment today. All blood types are needed to ensure the Red Cross maintains an adequate blood supply. A blood donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification are required at check-in. Donors must be in general good health, weigh at least 110 pounds and be at least 17 years old (16 with completed Parental Consent Form). New height and weight restrictions apply to donors younger than 19. Visit to learn more.


About the American Red Cross:

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies more than 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