Archive Page 2
One moment, 18-year-old Brian Boyle was driving home from swim practice. The next, he was in a hospital bed, unable to speak or move.
A natural athlete, Brian was now using all his lessons learned from team sports to survive. “Sometimes you do everything right, and life still doesn’t follow the path you thought you’d be on,” he says. A dump truck had broadsided his car, and heneeded immediate surgery.
His heart had been pushed from one side of his chest to the other. He was resuscitated eight times. The only physical hope for his survival was the gift of blood. Sixty percent of Brian’s blood was replaced through transfusions given by volunteer donors.
Making a difference. Two months later, when Brian entered rehab, he knew he wanted to make a difference. “I was alive! I wanted to take my experiences and help others. I started at the very foundation of my recovery—the blood donors, who were there from the getgo.”
He began by giving testimonials and speaking about blood donation, then by sponsoring 5K races for blood donation, still later by hosting blood drives. Now, as a volunteer spokesperson for national blood campaigns, he wears the American Red Cross emblem proudly at all his athletic events.
“Blood is needed every day for emergencies like mine, as well as for those with chronic conditions. For nearly 5 million people every year, a blood donation can make the difference between life and death. I am living proof of this.”
Brian’s determination and athletic spirit led to a rapid recovery. In 2007, Brian finished his first Ironman triathlon. “I had lost 100 pounds and had only weeks to train for it,” he says. “My story of survival made me believe I could attempt these races. When I crossed the finish line, I knew I was fully healed.” Brian’s story emphasizes just how important each and every blood donation can be. Accident victims, as well as patients with cancer, sickle cell disease, blood disorders and other illnesses receive lifesaving transfusions every day. There is no substitute for blood, and volunteer donors are the only source.
Giving back. In 2009, Brian made his own first blood donation at the hospital that brought him back to life. Brian graduated from college with honors and is now a public speaker about the patient’s perspective when dealing with health issues. “My work with the Red Cross has made all the pain and suffering worthwhile,” he says. “I am blessed.”
As an endurance athlete, running in the Boston marathon is an experience I will always cherish, and as a blood recipient/donor/volunteer it meant so much to be able to run the race for the Red Cross. Due to the heat, close to 90 degrees, it was repeatedly said that it was one of the most difficult races in the 116 years of the Boston marathon. From my training regime, I was hoping to run a personal best of around 3:20, but I couldn’t believe how much I started to sweat within the first mile so I knew from the beginning it was going to be a rough day.
Near the Newton Hills is where the energy was just completely zapped due to the heat, and it was the downhill section that affected me more than going up because the cramps set it in my legs. After Heartbreak Hill, I focused on just enjoying the race and getting to the finish line safely so I stopped and chatted with the Red Cross volunteers for about 15 minutes near mile 24 and just soaked in the experience of running Boston – it truly was an amazing day.
When I sat down after crossing the finish line (4:04) amongst the large crowds of people, a runner standing next to me fainted and I hurried to catch him and shield is head before hitting the ground. After 20 seconds or so, he started to regain consciousness when the medics rushed to him, so it took me by surprise that not only did I run the race for the Red Cross but I had to step in and put my volunteer cap on as well.
It was an honor to run on the Red Cross Team in the Boston Marathon and I’m so proud of all 21 members of the team. We were able to go above our fundraising goal and bring in over $80,000 for the Red Cross.
The Boston marathon was a very challenging race, but I enjoyed every second of it. A marathon may be run alone, but in no way is it an individual effort. This race is for my blood donors, the Red Cross and for all the people who have been a part of my journey back to life. This finisher’s medal is a token of my appreciation for the gift you have given me, and I thank you all so much for believing in me and for all the encouragement and support over the years.
IRONMAN ATHLETE TELLS TALES OF DEATH TO LIFE
The Ohio State University Newspaper “The Lantern”
By Caitlyn Wasmundt
“I don’t want to die.”
That was Brian Boyle’s only thought when he woke from a coma and a priest read him his last rites.
Boyle shared his experience of going from deathbed to Hawaiian Ironman in three years when he spoke at the Ohio Union Feb. 23 as collaboration between the Ohio Union Activities Board and the American Red Cross.
In 2004, a car crash almost ended Boyle’s life at age 18, when a dump truck smashed into Boyle’s car. Not only did Boyle suffer broken bones and internal bleeding, but his heart shifted to the other side of his chest from the impact. Boyle said paramedics and doctors revived him eight times in two months to keep him alive.
Boyle gave the audience a first-person account of what he experienced after waking up in the hospital and having no idea where he was or why he was there.
“I awake to regular beeping sounds,” Boyle said. “I’m alone in a white room and looking straight up at the ceiling … I try to raise my arms, then legs, but I can’t move them. My head won’t budge either.”
Moments after waking up, a dark shadowy figure walked into Boyle’s room. He said he feared it was death, but then realized it was a priest who began reading his last rites.
As he read his story to the audience, Boyle had to stop for a moment.
“I’m sorry, flashbacks,” he said.
Katie Sattler, a fourth-year in nursing, said Boyle’s story touched her on a personal and professional level.
“It was very inspirational, it gives me a different standpoint in nursing,” Sattler said.
Two months after regaining consciousness, doctors moved Boyle to a therapy facility, Boyle told his audience.
During his time in the Intensive Care Unit and rehab, Boyle said he lost hope and didn’t see a reason to live. But through faith and his parents’ love, he said he realized he needed to fight.
Boyle wrote a book about his journey called “Iron Heart: The True Story of How I Came Back From the Dead.”
Three years after the accident, Boyle said he decided to compete in the Hawaii Ironman, an endurance triathlon consisting of a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride and 26.2-mile run.
Boyle said his decision to compete was his way of telling those around him that he was finally OK.
“Ironman sealed the deal on my recovery,” Boyle said.
He finished the competition in 14 hours and 42 minutes, just three years after being told he might never walk again.
“It was the breath of life all over again,” Boyle said about crossing the finish line.
Doire Perot, a third-year in operations management and president of American Red Cross Club at OSU, said hearing Boyle’s story was an incredible opportunity for OSU students.
“You can take a lot away from Brian’s story, even if you aren’t an athlete,” Perot said.
After telling his audience his firsthand experience, he opened it up to a Q-and-A session.
Audience members asked him a wide range of questions, from his training regimen for his first Ironman to how he feels about driving after the accident.
Since his first Ironman competition, Boyle has competed in about 30 other endurance competitions, he said.
Boyle said he doesn’t remember the accident, but is still cautious when he’s on the road.
“I don’t remember the accident, but the scars are there,” Boyle said of his lost memory.
To read more, please visit the newspaper’s website.
INSPIRATIONAL ATHLETE, AUTHOR DISCUSSES BOOK WITH RYKEN STUDENTS
The County Times Newspaper
By Carrie Munn
St. Mary’s College of Maryland alum and Southern Maryland local legend Brian Boyle visited English students at St. Mary’s Ryken last Friday to talk about his inspirational, nonfiction book, “Iron Heart.”
The work was assigned reading for several Ryken juniors and Boyle addressed their inquiries about his true-life account of overcoming injuries sustained in a 2004 severe automobile accident and going on to complete the grueling Ironman competition.
At 18, Boyle, of Welcome, in Charles County, was an honor student and all-star athlete at McDonough High School when his life was placed in peril after his Camaro was struck by a dump truck. In 2007, Boyle, who technically died multiple times during surgeries and was told he may never walk again, made headlines when he crossed the finish line after the intense 2.4-swim, 112-mile bike ride and 26.2-mile full marathon in Kona, Hawaii.
From coma to Kona, “Iron Heart” is his personal and inspirational tale and one that Ryken English teacher Misty Frantz said her students connect with.
“Every day I inspire my students to accomplish their goals and make the world a better place,” Frantz said, adding the choices she makes in literature have to support the ‘quitting is not a option’ philosophy she lives and teaches by. “Brian’s story fits right in with that philosophy,” she told The County Times.
She explained “Iron Heart” is an inspirational yet relatable tale for her students and that the experience of meeting Boyle makes the book come to life for them.
Students asked Boyle questions ranging from the serious; “Did you ever want to just give up?” and “Did you ever question your faith?” to the superficial; “Do you have a girlfriend?” and “How much can you bench?”
Boyle answered them all candidly and with a sense of humor. As one session wrapped up, he told the high schoolers, “I’m nothing different, I just have a crazy story to share.”
Boyle said the book was borne from his personal journaling during the lengthy recovery process, explaining it took time to determine which memories were a reality and which were not. Boyle said he was determined to get out of the hospital bed he’d spent weeks in, not just for his sake, but for his parents’. “I just had to pull through for them,” he said.
He said as crazy as it sounds, it took something as intense as finishing the Ironman for him to feel his recovery was complete. “Every week, every day was and is a gift,” Boyle said, adding that in the years since his miraculous recovery he has sought out the medical workers who saved his life and thanked them, has become an American Red Cross advocate and public speaker, as well as pushing the athletic envelope for himself. He continues to train extensively and competes in many endurance events with sponsorships.
Boyle said he is working on getting back to Kona, to disprove the naysayers who claimed he only got the chance to compete because of the media attention and his amazing story. He said in the future two goals are to qualify straight-up for the Ironman and The Boston Marathon.
The athlete shared that his outlook on life is forever changed, saying he wakes up happy to be able to move his toes each morning and has an enhanced level of determination and appreciation in life.
When a student asked the author, “Would you go back and change it if you could?”, Boyle responded that as tough as it was, he wouldn’t take it back for the platform his experience has given him to help others.
He said his thoughts went from ‘Why did He let this happen to me?’ to ‘Why has He saved me?’ From there, his spirit of determination carried him through a remarkable recovery and he now serves as inspiration for other athletes and trauma patients facing a seemingly insurmountable return to normalcy.
As for his book, “Iron Heart” is written in a simplistic, first-hand narrative and Boyle said his hope in publishing the work is that it ends up in the hands of someone in a similar situation and gives them the hope to push through it.
“My students continually tell me that this is the one book they enjoyed reading,” Frantz said, adding that Brian is real and by him taking the time to come meet with the students, “…my students see you can accomplish anything you put your mind to.”
Many excited students requested photos with the athlete and author following their open dialogue about the reading.
Baltimore, MD, January 9, 2012 – In the weeks leading up to and immediately following the winter holiday season, the American Red Cross, Greater Chesapeake and Potomac Region has seen a significant decline in donor turnout at local blood drives and donor centers. This reduction in collections has put several blood types at critical or emergency levels. These low supply levels make it difficult for the region to prepare for potential emergency situations.
“We are nearing a potential crisis for patients at the more than 50 hospitals we serve, including several level one trauma centers” stated Gary J. Ouellette, CEO. “Low donor turnout around the holidays, as well as winter breaks at local high schools and colleges has lead to this drop in blood collections. As a direct result, blood inventories have continued to drop as patients’ needs increase. Without your help, patients are at risk for not receiving the transfusions they need.”
Like the Emergency Room of a hospital, the American Red Cross must be prepared to respond to patient emergencies with blood products 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Through the everyday support and generosity of blood and platelet donors, the Red Cross can be prepared to do this day-in and day-out, no matter when or where these blood products are needed.
Each day, approximately 44,000 units of blood are needed for patients in the United States. In fact, approximately every two seconds, someone in this country needs blood. All eligible donors are encouraged to become an Everyday supporter of the Red Cross and their communities by giving blood or platelets this winter.
How to Donate Blood
Simply call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or visit redcrossblood.org to make an appointment or for more information. Platelet donors can call 1-800-272-2123. All blood types are needed to ensure a reliable supply for patients. A blood donor card or driver’s license, or two other forms of identification are required at check-in. Individuals who are 17 years of age (16 with parental permission in some states), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.
The need is constant. The gratification is instant. Give blood.™