Community remembers former Minerva athlete who died suddenly, donated organs


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A bright light has gone out in Minerva.

Garrison Markins, a 2021 graduate of Minerva High School, passed away suddenly Wednesday after going into cardiac arrest the weekend before.

Markins’ death came as a shock to many. His mother, who had recently just gotten out of the hospital herself because of kidney stones, recalled the moment she got the phone call that he was in the hospital.

“My phone rang and it said Aultman, and at first I didn’t think anything of it. I figured they were calling to check on me to see how I was doing,” Mollee Markins, Garrison’s mom said. “When I answered it, it was a really good friend of mine who is a nurse in the ER who I had worked with. She said ‘Mollee this is Jamie, we have Garrison and he came in unresponsive in cardiac arrest and we have him on a vent. We need you to get here as quick as you can, but as safely as you can.'”

Mollee said the worst was running through her mind as she waited in a family waiting room to see her baby boy. That’s when a doctor told Mollee and Curtis Markins that their son was flatlined when he came in, but they were able to bring him back.

“I talked to the doctor that was taking care of him, and she said he was brought in and they did three rounds of CPR along with epi and was able to get him back pretty quick.”

The initial cardiac arrest incident happened on Saturday, but by Monday they told Mollee and Curtis to start bringing family and friends to say goodbye to Garrison. He died Wednesday, July 13 with his mom and dad by his side.

Over the years, fans of Minerva athletics watched Garrison excel in two sports – football and track – at a high level. But many who watched him compete for the Lions, may not have known that the journey to wearing the red and gray of Minerva, wasn’t easy or guaranteed.

“Quite honestly, this scenario…they told us that we were going to have it when he was five,” Mollee said. “We tried and looked for a positive in the fact that we got fifteen years that they told us we’d never have.”

Garrison was born seven weeks premature, weighing less than three pounds at birth. He spent the majority of his first three years of life in the hospital. As he grew older, he was diagnosed with an enlarged left ventricle, which caused many problems over the years.

Garrison was adopted by Mollee and Curtis Markins when he was just 10 days old. Being born a preemie, he was forced to spend the first seven weeks of his life in the intensive care unit at Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital, hooked up to cardiac monitors for nine months.

Mollee Markins calls her son a miracle.

“To see everything that he accomplished, to see the people that he touched…it made every fight and every battle worth it,” she said.

When Garrison was almost three years old, his mom noticed he was having a facial droop. He was ultimately diagnosed with Bell’s palsy.

Mollee said she believes they were living on borrowed time with Garrison, but it was easy to forget when you saw what he accomplished as an athlete.

“We also knew that our time was probably limited. We have so many more pictures of him because we didn’t think we were going to get him for twenty years,” she said. “While we’re devastated that we only got him for twenty years, we rejoice we got him for twenty years.”

The Markins’ are extremely thankful for the support they have received from not only the Minerva community but surrounding areas.

“The support was amazing for us. I bet there was easily 100 people that filtered through the room between classmates, teammates…coworkers, church family. Their love and support is truly what got us through,” Mollee said.

“It meant a whole lot to me, and I love the respect and the honor that they gave him,” Curtis said. “I always said that Garrison was such a sportsman, that win or lose, he had friends on every team he played against. He made such an impact on everybody. I couldn’t believe how many people were crying.”

When Garrison was 18, he made the decision to become an organ donor.

“He chose that. He got his license when he was 18 and they asked him if he wanted to be an organ donor,” Mollee said. “He looked at me and I told him, that’s a decision you have to make…I told him I would honor his wishes.”

His organ donations saved the life of a baby who received the small portion of Garrison’s liver. The liver was split into two, with the other portion going to someone. Each of his kidneys went to different recipients as well. They took his pancreas, his eyes, and skin grafts. They were able to use a couple valves of his heart and his left lung.

“One thing that helped us going into the operating room for Garrison to pass, is we knew about the baby. We knew he was helping a baby,” Curtis said. “I’m immensely proud of him.”

Garrison’s parents hope one day they can meet the people Garrison saved.

“I want them to know how amazing my son was. It’s nice to know some of him is still alive out there,” Mollee and Curtis said. “We know part of his heart is alive. I’m so proud of him for deciding to do this.”

“He was a miracle in life, and a hero in death. That’s what I’m holding faith to,” Mollee said when remembering her son.

Donations to help offset the cost of services can be made to Gotschall’s in Garrison Markins’ name.