By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
OKLAHOMA CITY ,OK — This April, LifeShare is honoring those who have given the gift of life by celebrating National Donate Life Month. Across the United States, more than 115,000 individuals wait for an organ transplant to save their life. Thousands more are in need of tissue and corneal transplants to restore mobility and sig ht. Without the generosity of more than 30,000 donors in the United States each year, many would still be waiting for a lifesaving gift.
LifeShare is a nonprofit, federally designated organ procurement organization (OPO) dedicated to the recovery of organs and tissue for transplant purposes.
One such hero donor was Enid native Sam Akin, who loved life and lived each day to the fullest. Sam loved to be outdoors, ride his scooter or skateboard, but his real passion was football.
During the weekly football games, spectators would frequently hear Sam’s name, one of the Plainsmen’s star players, over the loud speakers: “Touchdown by #20 running back Sam Akin” or “55 yard run by Sam Akin.”
Football was a sport that Sam didn’t just love, but lived. His dream was to one day play football for the University of Oklahoma Sooners and eventually for the NFL.
Coaches first notice Sam at the high school Summer Pride practice of 2016, only to find out that he was a 6th grade student and would have another year before joining the Plainsmen.
Sam’s first game with the Plainsmen was an out-of-town scrimmage. After the game, Sam ran across the field to give his mom, Brandi, a hug and a kiss.
Brandi fondly recalls that moment of her son, who cared about his parents and others.
According to Brandi, Sam wasn’t your typical teenage boy, saying he was quick to help strangers who were struggling or needed help.” To this day, the family still receives calls from people who praise Sam for stopping bullying or helping a member of the opposite football team up after they were injured.
“Sam was one those guys that did the right thing, whether others were looking or not,” Brandi said.
His sister Mackenzie, would tease him about this, but is very proud of her brother and loved him dearly. “Sam was a young man full of integrity and had a good outlook on life,” Mackenzie said.
In October of 2017, Sam was hospitalized and despite the best efforts of the medical staff to overcome his injuries, his life ended. The family was approached by LifeShare, who asked if they wanted Sam to save lives as an organ and tissue donor.
“It was the easiest decision we made because we knew Sam would make it too,” Brandi said.
Hospital staff, LifeShare staff, friends and family members joined together for a Donate Life flag ceremony to honor Sam for his gifts that saved four and enhanced more than 75 other lives. Together, they celebrated Sam’s heart and passion for life that now lives on in others.
“Everyone we have encountered through LifeShare has been a blessing during the worst time in our lives,” Brandi said. “When we have really needed people with compassion, LifeShare has been there for us.”
LifeShare works closely with five transplant centers and 145 healthcare organizations in Oklahoma to facilitate donation. In addition, LifeShare strives to raise awareness for organ, eye and tissue donation and transplantation through public education.