KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Not everyone gets a second chance at life, and fewer still get the chance to meet the people who saved them.
“I’ll come up there," said John Akin, who proudly wheeled himself to the podium Wednesday at Research Medical Center during an event honoring first responders and caregivers. "I'm gonna try to stand up. I need to stand up."
Akin held back tears as he recalled the day he first met the team of caregivers who were now watching him stand.
“I might cry, OK? I might cry. I’m an emotional person," Akin said. "I remember laying on a table they said they shifted me over and I looked up and there was all these faces and I said, ‘What’s going on?’”
It was that moment Akin learned he'd had a heart attack while at a funeral and was, by all means, dead for several minutes.
“People have to love others, be concerned about others, be compassionate and kind," Akin said, with his wife just inches away, as he thanked those who brought him back to her, “and I’m so glad I fell into your lap because you sure blessed me.
“I love everyone of you, and if I could hug you and squeeze you I would, I’d give you a kiss on the cheek.”
Like Akin, Kalen Meredith also was given a second lease on life and the chance to reunite with the life-flight crew and responders who saved her after a rollover crash.
Dr. Mark Lieser, who was Meredith’s trauma doctor, said she had a severe liver injury from the crash.
“Within the first 24 hours, she got about 65 units of blood products,” Lieser said.
If the crews had been a few minutes later, Meredith said, she wouldn’t be alive. But four months to the day after the incident, she was back home.
“Everyone from the medical team here, I would not be here today and I just want to thank you guys for everything, for not giving up on me,” she said.
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