Northland couple holding blood drive to honor baby girl who died from rare liver disease

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GLADSTONE, Mo. --  A blood drive is underway in Gladstone to honor a baby girl who died just shy of her first birthday.

Nora Rose Akins was born a healthy baby girl, but things changed quickly. Her parents learned she had a rare liver disease.

Now they're trying to raise awareness and give back to others in need.

"At seven weeks old she was diagnosed with a rare liver disease called Biliary Atresia," Lauren Akins, Nora's mother, said. "The true cure for that is a liver transplant."

Nora was put on the transplant list, but while she and her parents were waiting, her health took a turn.

"She had a cardiac arrest," Lauren said. "Her brain went without sufficient oxygen for about 40 minutes, and the brain is the one organ you can't jump-start."

Nora died in July at 11 months old. Her life was short, but her parents Chris and Lauren are thankful for every second.

"The blood and blood products we received gave us more days with her while she was on life support," Chris Akins said.

That's why Nora's parents are holding a blood drive with the Community Blood Center in Gladstone. They want to give back to other children what people gave to their daughter.

"You are a hero whenever you give blood, and the more you do the better it is," Chris Akins said. "Most of us in our lifetime will never do anything that makes us a hero, and it may seem small but it`s very important."

Chris and Lauren Akins are also raising awareness for organ donation.

Their daughter never got the chance for a life-saving transplant, but it's still a cause close to their hearts.

"We believe that she wasn't called to this earth to receive a donation. We believe that she was called to be a donor," Chris Akins said. "She gave her heart and she saved some other little boy or girl."

"That brings us comfort, knowing that some kind of beauty can rise from the ashes of such a horrible thing to have to go through."

The Akins' goal is to get the community to donate 400 units of blood, which is double the amount Nora received.

The blood drive runs through Sunday, Oct. 13 at the Community Blood Center in Gladstone. You can call 816-468-9813 to make an appointment and tell them you want to donate in Nora's honor.

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